Apple Vision Pro Musings Revisited

Lots of reviews coming in on the Apple Vision Pro (AVP) by folks in the media this week. Here are a few takeaways, starting with a forecast I got wrong!

A musing I got wrong last summer … I stated that Apple has an excellent track record at ensuring that its marketing materials accurately reflect the capabilities of its products and commented specifically that AVP’s Eyesight feature and the associated “Persona” (the digital representation of what we look like) would likely match what Apple was showing. Well, not so much. Most are familiar at this point with “those eyes” that we see in all the AVP advertising videos. Well, turns out early experience is that Apple has fallen short in matching the experience with the promo’s, for both the eyes (Eyesight) and also the persona (or avatar). The eyes apparently are tough to see in certain lighting conditions and even when they are visible, sometimes they’re too pixelated, or maybe just one eye — so not exactly what we were “promised,” at least not yet. As for our “personas” aren’t as realistic as hoped; while Apple does a good job of reflecting our facial movements, our hair is locked in place, compromising our appearance. That said, this will undoubtedly get better.

A musing I got right last summer … the whole “What is the killer app?” thread … it isn’t about killer apps! It’s about a killer ecosystem. Aside from the Apple brand itself, perhaps the most compelling motivator to pony up $3500, especially if one has a mobile need, isn’t any specific app, but rather the entirety of the Apple ecosystem. Imagine being on a plane for instance, i.e. tight quarters, but still needing to do work with multiple windows open, with access to your email, a browser, perhaps some pdf’s, etc. Just using a laptop isn’t the ideal device for those few hours, especially if you’re accustomed to a multi-monitor set up at work or at home. Apple Vision Pro version 1 might be right for you. Not to mention that you can integrate your laptop and use of its keyboard into your Apple Vision Pro. More on this below. (Side note: NBA fans might say that watching five games at a time inside an AVP *is* a killer app!)

There’s not much talk about AVP giving anyone a headache, something which has tainted the experience of many users’ initial use of other vendors’ headsets. What’s more, it seems that many journalists are really pushing the length of time that they’re wearing their AVP’s. Several hours at a time in some cases — note that although the battery life comes in at two to three hours in practice, long enough for most Disney movies, one can go longer by plugging in directly to a wall outlet. In terms of physical comfort, the number one complaint so far is that the device is a little heavy (but not so heavy mind you to prevent extended wearing.)

Other miscellaneous conclusions:

  • Siri — looks like Siri will be how we do a lot of “desktop” management in the AVP — and when Siri presumably becomes much more robust later this year (June??) this is going to be compelling.
  • Hand tracking and eye tracking — apparently these are working exceptionally well.
  • Integration with one’s laptop — works seamlessly, although one can only use one “monitor” (virtual of course) with it — one can open up lots of other app windows though, through visionOS, and one can control those apps through your laptop’s keyboard, not just with your voice and hand gestures. (Note that this means that macOS and visionOS are working together. Pretty impressive.)

A last thought … over and again, people are saying this is the best in class of all the many headsets out there. Robert Scoble commented yesterday that that’s really all Apple had to do with this version. Looks like they’ve done a whole lot more as well. Mine comes tomorrow. Can’t wait to try it out myself.