Are We Still Talking About the Apple Vision Pro?

Someone on X/Twitter recently posted the question of whether the Apple Vision Pro was a “success” or not. I commented, “I think from Apple’s perspective it is a success, as I think their objective was to deliver a product which effectively tied into its ecosystem and allows development teams to envision how their skills can be deployed in a 3D environment. It’s not about 2024 revenue after all.”

I’ve been reflecting on my answer, and what is most glaring to me is that it is incomplete (and a bit ho-hum to boot). At this stage, I suppose there are lots of definitions of what success is, and of course it depends on one’s objectives, one’s hopes, and even one’s dreams. The web is filled with stories about how some of the “Vision Pro curious” have headsets which are now gathering dust. So for them, not successful! And after the initial spate of pundit press reviewing the device, coverage is now primarily relegated to reddit, to Twitter, to YouTube. So it wouldn’t be surprising if the consumer who is just peripherally following the AVP story concluded “not successful.” There’s a corporate definition of success — Apple’s itself, Wall Street analysts, some of the technology pundits. But for the consumer, defining success is pretty personal.

And with that in mind, I thought I’d share why I regularly use my Vision Pro, and also what I wish were improved so that I would use it more.

Why am I regularly using my Apple Vision Pro?

The primary reason is that although the AVP doesn’t cure my chronic affliction with multi-tasking and propensity for distraction, it sure does help. It would be natural to think the opposite, of course, that the novelty of the AVP and having multiple windows active simultaneously would be an enabler for my self-diagnosed ADHD, not an inhibitor. So why is this? I think the answer is quite mundane actually. For certain types of work — creative brainstorming in particular — the simple ability to have a window be expanded right in front of my face, while retaining the ability to access other apps has made for a very different experience than the one on my desktop. (With my desktop Mac I have three large monitors, so it isn’t an issue of available workspace.)

This large window placement is what then allows me to go through my X/Twitter feed and delve into a particular post or related article, consume a video, and then potentially share it with a colleague or friend quite seamlessly. I’ve done the same thing on my computer for years of course, but it’s different inside the headset. I’m more focused, less prone to distraction. But it’s more than that — for some reason I find myself able to connect more dots, be more creative, and find more salient information. The friction of finding windows, starting apps from my menu bar, etc. is gone. Perhaps the real test will be when there are more VisionOS native apps to distract me!

A secondary reason I regularly use my AVP is when I want to be in a particular location in my home … maybe I want to “be where the action is” or go back and forth between reading a physical book and being in my AVP without getting up. The ability to watch content inside my headset has proved to be an unexpected benefit — as I can do so many other things while leaving the “TV” show on mute (think news show) until it’s covering something I want to listen to. I can immediately and easily turn the volume on and decide whether I want to make it more of a focus by enlarging the screen, or just leaving it the same size. I can be much more productive than just watching regular TV while also being “on my phone.”

What would make me use my Vision Pro more?

  • Easier text editing!  I’m typically using Siri for text entry, but I’m finding it incredibly cumbersome to edit typos or do rewrites. If there’s a mistake, I usually just select all, delete, and start over with Siri. For as good as eye and hand tracking is for interacting with apps and buttons, for text editing it fails. For slack posts and text messages, it’s fine. But to write something much longer, forget it. I go back to using the computer or the phone writing which is more than 40 or 50 words.
  • Opening up more than one instance of an app! On my Mac, I often have multiple instances open of my email. Granted, there is a workaround of connecting my laptop, starting the app on the laptop, and then starting the same app on my AVP. But it’s not the same — I’ve come to appreciate apps that have been written for VisionOS — apps like Dusk (for X/Twitter) and Juno (YouTube), so connecting the laptop isn’t ideal.
  • More games, even though I’m not a gamer. I want more games because that will help drive more investment, more software development, more users, and more demand for headsets and software over the long haul.
  • All the rest that you’ve likely already heard or read countless times. Do I wish it weighed less? Yes, of course. Does hand/eye tracking occasionally get uncalibrated? Yes, I wish it were even better than it is and that I didn’t need to restart every now and again. And. of course. more available apps are also on my wish list. (Might undermine the AVP being my antidote for ADHD though.)
Today marks the end of my second month with the AVP. There are new apps every day it seems in the App Store, a promising sign. Right now, the big boon for the AVP is the existence of two-dimensional apps displayed in real-life three dimensional space. That will change however — more and more apps will be created which are three dimensional. Like the PGA Tour Vision app which uses real-time shot tracking integrated with 3D models of real golf courses, or the Voyager app which allows you to choose an airport and see the planes landing there, again in real-time.

I’ve said before that the killer app is actually the Apple ecosystem, but that’s foundational. Killer apps are ultimately in the eye of the beholder (and I for one would like to sit courtside at a Lakers game or the U.S. Open. That sure would feel like “success” to me.