Vision Pro put me on the MLS playoffs field and it was so real I could almost smell the grass and taste the champagne

Apple Vision Pro Immersive Video
(Image credit: Future)

Apple Vision Pro excels at something few other devices can do: deep immersion and hyper-realistic experiences that make you question your reality.

I've been using Vision Pro on and off for almost a year. First in a series of all-too-brief demos, but since February I've had one to keep and I use it often, sometimes for hours. 

I've worked in it. I've watched 3D movies. I've tried drawing with it. I've played games, taken photos, conducted eerie Persona-powered FaceTime calls, and rewatched moments in spatial videography. Last night, Vision Pro took me, for just five minutes, onto a professional football pitch (or soccer field for my fellow US fans).

This is not just virtual reality, it's Apple Immersive Video. It's 8K, 3D, 180-degree video, according to Apple, taking the mixed reality headset to the limits of its visual capabilities. In reality, Apple may shoot the video at 8K, but the maximum resolution of the headset is approximately 4K per eye.

Even so, it's a breathtaking, one-of-a-kind experience. Apple's first Immersive Video sports film.

Apple Vision Pro Immersive Video

I'd show you more, but you can't screen capture any of the video. (Image credit: Future)

Over the years, I've worn multiple VR headsets, including Meta Quest Pro and HTC Vive, and I've watched immersive video shot with specialized 360-degree cameras. It's always good, but usually lacks the visual clarity to make the video feel real.

Apple Immersive Video promises something more. When the company told me they were sharing a short, five-minute video (2023 MLS Cup Highlights) featuring moments from the 2023 Major League Soccer Cup playoffs, I put on the headset at precisely 9 PM ET and launched Apple TV in the headset to be among the first to experience it.

In 2023, Apple partnered with the soccer league to offer MLS Pass on Apple TV, but this video is free on Apple TV and through the Vision Pro.

I've watched my share of sports season highlights reels, but this one hits different. The image quality is so real you want to touch and smell it. Your point of view as players walk onto the pitch feels like walking among them. When confetti blasts into the air after a goal, it rains down upon you.

You might think the 180-degree nature of the film cuts down on reality, but you have to strain to see the blackness beyond the edges of the immersive film.

Everything about the video is so real and unexpected, like being surprised by a woman clapping her hands right next to my right ear, or finding myself standing just behind the net as Columbus Crew and LAFC players scored a goal.

It's also, at its core, still a sports highlight reel, complete with MLS Season Pass broadcasters Taylor Twellman and Jake Zivin offering play-by-play. If there is one criticism, I didn’t always know where to look. Unlike a televised match where the camera follows the ball, I had to look around to find the action. It was a lot more like being at a real game and sitting in the stands or standing on the field.

Apple Vision Pro Immersive Video

The immersion is fairly complete and if you stand up and move around, the video instantly drops away so you can see your real world. (Image credit: Future)

The video also takes you inside the locker room celebration where I swear I was sprayed with champagne. At least, like the players, I was wearing protective eye gear, except mine cost $3,499.

I know Apple posted this video to attract new MLS Season Pass subscribers ($14.99 per month in the US, £14.99 in the UK) but I think this is much more than a sports video service commercial.

I saw it as an all-too-brief taste of the potential of Apple Immersive Video. I want to see an entire MLS game, or watch live baseball games from the vantage of first base and behind home plate. I would love to virtually sit in the audience at the next Oscars Telecast. Strap me to a skydiver, put me in the Tour de France, take me on a tour of the Colosseum in Rome.

For now, though, there are only a handful of Apple Immersive Video experiences, and none are longer than the 20-minute Alicia Keyes rehearsal experience. I'm not sure why there are still so few or what Apple is waiting for, but more videos like this will be sure to create the intense kind of FOMO Apple needs to inspire new Apple Vision Pro customers.

If there is a reason to spend almost $4,000 for a mixed-reality headset, this might be it, at least for experience junkies.

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Lance Ulanoff
Editor At Large

A 38-year industry veteran and award-winning journalist, Lance has covered technology since PCs were the size of suitcases and “on line” meant “waiting.” He’s a former Lifewire Editor-in-Chief, Mashable Editor-in-Chief, and, before that, Editor in Chief of PCMag.com and Senior Vice President of Content for Ziff Davis, Inc. He also wrote a popular, weekly tech column for Medium called The Upgrade.


Lance Ulanoff makes frequent appearances on national, international, and local news programs including Live with Kelly and Ryan, the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNBC, CNN, and the BBC.