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iPhone 15 Pro Can Now Record 3D 'Spatial Video' To Watch In Apple Vision Pro

iPhone 15 Pro Can Now Record 3D 'Spatial Video' To Watch In Apple Vision Pro

iPhone 15 Pro can now record 3D 'Spatial Video' to watch in Apple Vision Pro.

Update December 11: iOS 17.2 has now been publicly released. This article about the iOS 17.2 beta 2, originally published November 13, has been updated to reflect this.

Spatial Video was first teased at WWDC in June when Vision Pro was announced. The headset itself will able to capture them, and the ability for iPhone 15 Pro to do so too with an upcoming software update was announced during its launch event. That update has now arrived with iOS 17.2.

Until now Apple didn't actually say what Spatial Videos are, other than to say they "have incredible depth that lets you see into a moment". Apple's marketing clips seemed to suggest Spatial Video was something much more than just stereoscopic video, with volumetric parallax depicted, but it's clear now this marketing was misleading.

Apple confirmed to CNET's Scott Stein and TechRadar's Lance Ulanoff that Spatial Video is in fact just 3D stereoscopic video, two 1080p 30FPS captures embedded into the same file with the Apple HEVC Stereo Video Profile format, an implementation of MV-HEVC.

VisionOS plays Spatial Videos within a floating rounded rectangular container and extends the edges within with a blurred background based on the content, seemingly to enhance the sense of depth further.

At a private Apple event last week both journalists got to capture Spatial Videos on iPhone 15 Pro and watch them in Vision Pro. Stein described it as "undeniably vivid" and said the 3D was "compellingly realistic", but said he wished the capture was 4K and 60FPS. Ulanoff seemed more impressed, and speculated Spatial Video could even be Vision Pro's "killer app":

"In the bubble video, the bubbles appeared to be floating both in the scene and closer to my face; I had the impulse to reach out and touch them."
"The depth is interesting, and not overbearing or jarring. Instead, the scene looks exactly as I remember it, complete with that lifelike depth. That’s not possible with traditional videography."

Of course, this is currently a very expensive and niche pipeline, requiring a $1000 phone for capture and a $3500 headset for playback. But given that Apple has publicly shared the specifications for the Apple HEVC Stereo Video Profile, it should theoretically be possible for other companies to build players for it, so that you could eventually watch them on a Meta Quest headset.

It's also rumored that Apple will support Spatial Video capture on its regular non-Pro iPhone 16 next year, and the company is reportedly working on a more affordable non-Pro Vision headset too.

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