Apple Vision Pro hands-on: A new milestone for mixed reality, but issues remain

San Francisco is highly dependent on business travel, which has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels. While JPMorgan brought back its annual health care conference this year, other events have moved out, including VMWare’s tech conference. A slowing economy and a remote-work thunderclap have emptied offices across the country, with some warning of a ticking time bomb in the commercial real estate market.
The device was considered ludicrously expensive when it launched at up to $599; these days a top model costs $1,599, a price people are willing to pay because it can do so much. Perhaps Apple can normalise paying thousands of dollars for a pair of glasses in the same way. Apple revolutionized personal technology with the introduction of the Macintosh in 1984. Today, Apple leads the world in innovation with iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV. Apple’s five software platforms — iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS — provide seamless experiences across all Apple devices and empower people with breakthrough services including the App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay, and iCloud.
Snap, another social-media firm, seems in no hurry to bring out a new version of its AR Spectacles. Tencent, a Chinese digital titan, abandoned its VR hardware plans in February. As impressed as I was by much of the Vision Pro, it’s clear that Apple’s mixed reality universe isn’t fully baked. While it was fascinating to have a FaceTime chat with another Apple representative wearing her own headset, I found the computer-generated “Persona” avatar to be strangely off-putting.
Thanks to the headset’s high-resolution front cameras, I had a clear view of my surroundings, along with the Apple representatives guiding my demo. It wasn’t a perfect representation of reality, but it was better than any VR or AR product I’ve seen. The second reason Apple wants to get its product out is because it already has its eye on what comes next. Such devices might even replace the smartphone as the next big tech platform. “I don’t think there’s a doubt in anyone’s mind that AR is the future,” says Jitesh Ubrani of IDC, another data company.
Apple’s more than 100,000 employees are dedicated to making the best products on earth, and to leaving the world better than we found it. The rest of Apple’s presentation focused on the home and consumer uses like using the headset to create giant virtual monitors or TV screens to watch movies or play games. “With Vision Pro you’re no longer limited by a display,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook when introducing the don’t-call-it-VR headset to the world. The idea of having a mobile triple-monitor setup with me while I’m traveling sounds great and a killer feature for many professionals, but it’s also largely the same thing VR headsets have been doing for years now. All of your apps will be accessible with Vision Pro — from FaceTime to Spotify. Users will control the device with their eyes, voice, and hands, tapping their fingers to select an app and flicking them to scroll.
But it was just a static document, and we didn’t see how you can interact with or create a document. We saw the ability to drag and drop 3D content from Messages, but we didn’t see people creating that 3D content within the headset. Apple’s past hits mostly took several years before they really caught on (see chart 1). Sales of the Apple Watch were low until people decided that its key use was for monitoring their health. The iPhone didn’t really take off until its fourth generation, in 2010, by which time the App Store was populated with thousands of apps that made people realise what the phone could do. Discovering more use cases for the iPhone also helped to justify its price.
I also figured out a flick and pinch motion could quickly scroll through websites, a genuinely intuitive gesture that simply felt delightful. After years of living with touchscreen interfaces on iOS and iPadOS, I don’t think anyone is going to have trouble learning how to use the Vision Pro. McGee said despite the impressive nature of the technology, he said it “is difficult to make the case that any consumer ‘needs’ this device.” Wired’s Lauren Goode said the Vision Pro’s best selling point is its ability to adjust the immersion level of the virtual environment. She said the headset also “shone” in the entertainment category because of the dynamic experience, and she found that it was intuitive to use.

Notable features include MagSafe charging, two Thunderbolt ports, a headphone jack, and a high-quality 1080p camera, accompanied by a three-mic array. With six speakers, including force-canceling woofers for immersive spatial audio, it delivers an exceptional sound experience. Was all this made better by the wildly superior Vision Pro hardware? I don’t know, and I’m not sure I can know with just a short time wearing the headset. What if you want to collaborate with people in the room with you and people on FaceTime? What does it mean that Apple wants you to wear a headset at your child’s birthday party?
A separate battery that can be carried in the pocket powers the device. With the Apple Vision Pro, you have the ability to dynamically transform and expand the dimensions of physical spaces through its immersive environmental features. Users can experience an unparalleled level of search convenience as oral dictation replaces traditional text-based input. This takes the experience even further by incorporating interactive widgets and live activities on the lock screen.

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