The release of Apple Vision Pro is a watershed moment for Apple
A sky-high price and limited volumes mean it’s not going to have the impact of an iPhone for a little while, but Apple is clear that this is the future.
It’s not just a part of the company’s future, it’s being billed as the future of all computing.
Spatial computing (interacting with virtual things in the spaces around us, and virtual object interacting with real objects and spaces) is what Apple pitches as the next evolution in computing in general.
For a product like this, the first of its kind from Apple and with so much attention and importance bestowed upon it, I’m going to slow-simmer our review before rendering a verdict. But after just a few days I already have so many notes, so many random thoughts, and I don’t want you to have to wait to hear them. Consider this article a bit of a running log of notes, observations, and ideas collected as we work on our Apple Vision Pro review. We’ll update it on occasion as I have more to share. Updated 02/06/24: We’ve added a few more notes about our experiences so far.
Notes from the Future Apple does not want this to be called a VR headset, but that’s very much what it is. It’s a VR headset that does pass-through video for augmented reality, which is something we have seen before. It does a better job of those things than other products (like Meta Quest 3), and its interaction model is different, but this is VR with passthrough video, eye tracking, and a host of fancy sensors.
Apple’s pathological aversion to plastic is a problem. All this metal and glass is just too heavy. It’s not just the weight (some VR headsets are heavier), it’s that it’s all on the front of your face and not well-distributed. This needs to be 200 grams lighter, at least.
Some things are so next-level that it’s crazy, while others feel strangely dated and simplistic. Nothing does hand-tracking this well in a consumer device. The eye tracking is magic. But the app management is bad: A honeycomb grid of non-moveable round icons in alphabetical order? The App Store is too basic, it needs proper categories and lists. Why does this $3,500 spatial computer have a Fisher Price My First Keyboard? The keyboard is almost shockingly basic, like a child’s toy.
Foundry How does Vision Pro not support Find My? There’s not even a Find My app, for which precision finding seems like a natural fit with augmented reality. Apple could literally draw a trail through the environment leading you right to your AirTag or iPhone.
There are definitely times when you can see “the future” in this device. This idea of computing resources just hanging in the air, or on a wall, as steady and clear as any real object would be, only virtual. This is the first product to really deliver that gut feeling.
Where do I put all this stuff? I quickly run out of space surrounding myself with floating windows and have to do a lot of turning and moving around if I want to be productive. Vision Pro desperately needs window management tools. In so many ways, multitasking on a Mac desktop is faster and easier. Some apps are in dire need of updates. Some don’t work well, others are very barebones. I haven’t found a productivity app yet where I wouldn’t be better off just opening another window on my Macbook desktop (or creating a new desktop “space”).
While working on my Macbook in a virtual monitor, I opened a Safari spatial window next to me and ordered some wings delivered for lunch. It worked fine, and Apple having all this autofill data helps a lot, but it was still slower and more awkward to navigate the menu and select items than it would have been in a browser tab on my Mac. It was amazing and impressive, but also more of a productivity drain than a boost.
I just can’t get over how well-anchored virtual objects and windows are. They are rock-solid and steady. Those floating windows are there, man. They are real. The future is a FaceTime call with your editor in a giant floating window in your kitchen.
Foundry I can’t drink coffee wearing this, the headset collides with the mug. You have to use a straw or any bottle that is narrow enough not to extend over the tip of your nose when you drink from it. Just another example of how this sort of thing is not yet ready for regular people doing real work for a few hours.
My number one frustration is the Control Center. You look up to see a dot and select it, but I find I accidentally trigger it constantly when using apps and immersive experiences. It happens dozens of times a day. If something is persistent (recording, airdrop incoming) the dot floats in your vision and messes up what you’re looking at. There has to be a better solution. A gesture maybe?
This is the best passthrough video I’ve ever seen and it’s still not good enough. In really bright light it’s just a little off, but the resolution, noise, latency, and motion blur increase greatly as your surroundings get darker. The everyday lighting in my home produces poor results unless I crank up all the lights. The quality of the rendered graphics, on the other hand, is crisp, sharp, bright, and detailed in a way I’ve not seen in other headsets.
There’s a huge library of 3D video out there, in side-by-side or top-and-bottom format. But there’s no way to play any of it! Moon Spatial Player (called “Moon VR Player” on other platforms but Apple won’t let them use VR in the title 🙄) promises to do just that, but does not work right now. Mac virtual monitor is awesome, but there is some latency. You wouldn’t want to play action games this way but it’s fine for getting work done.
It’s kind of an issue that if you use a password manager like 1Password and have a physical security key set up, you can’t actually plug it in anywhere. There are no native password manager apps but some iPad apps work fine.
There’s a lot of floating windows and big virtual video screens, but not much real augmented reality, which feels like the stuff that would be the most useful. Once again games lead the way: Super Fruit Ninja does more real AR than almost any other app I’ve tried (and is kind of a blast, too).
I’m seeing some online videos meant to make it look like the Meta Quest 3 can do what Vision Pro does. It may come across that way in a video on social media, but the fidelity and precision when you’re using the devices are vastly different. These devices are not the same.
Hand tracking is nice but sometimes I want tactile feedback. There’s a place for some sort of official handheld haptic controllers, perhaps just a spec Apple can publish to let third parties handle it, as they do with MFi game controllers.
It’s weird that there’s no weather app. Shoutout to Carrot and Mercury which have really nice early implementations. But why does Carrot’s AR mode, which uses ARKit on iPhone, not exist on Vision Pro? Boo! It’s even weirder that there’s no calculator app. I love PCalc but I can’t understand how many times we have to tell Apple that a calculator is table stakes for any platfrom?
The Juno app is probably overpriced at $4.99, given what it does. But it’s worth it if you watch a lot of YouTube, because the web experience is so bad. More evidence that “getting things done” with the Vision Pro interface isn’t really as productive as your Mac or iPad, yet. The Verge says a YouTube app is coming, but nobody knows when.
All apps are sort of anchored to a specific location in real space, which is not always ideal. I’d love widgets or specific classes of apps anchored to my view, sort of a heads-up-display app type.
It kills me that there’s no way to actually plug anything into this. No USB-C port, nothing (the USB-C port on the…
Fin de la ubicación de la aplicación de notas de Apple Vision Pro