Home News A marvel is the Apple Vision Pro. However, who will purchase it?

A marvel is the Apple Vision Pro. However, who will purchase it?


Last week, an Apple employee led me through a security gate and past a beautiful lawn before leading me down stairs and into Steve Jobs Theater for a preview of their new Vision Pro headset.

As with other reporters’ demonstrations, my demo was limited in scope. I spent 45 minutes wearing the device under the supervision of two Apple employees who led me through an attentively planned demo while sitting next to them on a midcentury gray sofa. Unfortunately no photos or videos could be taken while using it and none could go home for further evaluation.

vision pro
vision pro

Given my limited trial period, it would be unfair of me to offer any definitive assessment on whether the Vision Pro justifies its $3,500 price tag (this does not include taxes or additional accessories such as $100 Zeiss lens inserts that would be necessary if wearing prescription glasses or contacts, or its $200 travel case).

Vision Pro may not provide an effective solution to what I refer to as “the six-month problem.” Like most virtual reality headsets I’ve tried – and there have been plenty – once their novelty wears off, minor irritations such as blurry graphics or lack of attractive applications become noticeable; typically after six months each headset I try ends up gathering dust in my closet.

However, I can offer two general observations regarding my initial impressions of Vision Pro.

Vision Pro is an impressive product created through years of effort and billions in funding, surpassing even its closest competitor on the market, Meta Quest series, in numerous areas such as eye tracking controls, quality displays, pass-through features (known as pass-through).

Before attending my demo, I expected some level of skepticism – Apple’s aggressive stage management led me to suspect what could possibly be hidden – yet wearing the Vision Pro made me experience genuine wonder and witness what could become an important change in computing.

Second, after using the Vision Pro I remain uncertain who it’s intended for – certainly at $3,500 this device is certainly not designed for everyday users; more like an extravagant status symbol for your face.

Which doesn’t mean the Vision Pro is unattractive or that I didn’t enjoy using it – both are true. My experience just provided more clarity into which types of customers may be drawn towards buying one now as opposed to waiting a bit.

Are you one of the estimated 40 percent of American who has never experienced virtual reality before? The Vision Pro may provide an incredible, immersive experience.

If this is your first experience with virtual reality (V.R.), I suggest visiting one of Apple’s Vision Pro demos or convincing someone to let you borrow their headset (a V.R. headset is best borrowed rather than purchased).

Early virtual reality headsets were widely known to have issues, including blurry displays, headache-inducing motion tracking, inferior controllers and inability to do anything else while wearing them.

Apple has developed solutions for many of these problems with the Vision Pro’s displays: two small screens approximately the size of postage stamps that offer crisp, bright and detailed displays – giving an illusion of looking out from behind your own eyes, rather than staring directly into a screen.

I found myself drawn to the Vision Pro’s immersion toggle, which allows users to see more by simply turning a dial atop its case.

Contrary to other virtual reality systems, Vision Pro doesn’t require controllers – instead you simply look at an icon and pinch your thumb and finger together to select it. Learning was relatively quick for me but took several minutes before becoming fully proficient at using it.

Wearing the Vision Pro was generally comfortable. I use “roughly,” as while it felt light on my head and did not cause headaches like other virtual reality headsets do, there was still some slight discomfort while my eyes adjusted after taking on and off (my colleague who also received a demo compared it to leaving a dark movie theater on a bright day).

I do not know whether these issues were temporary or whether I could adapt, but they did not impede on my experience.

After a quick setup process, my Apple minder led me through to the Photos app on Vision Pro and showed me examples of “spatial photos and videos,” created using its built-in three-dimensional camera (or similar ones found on other high-end phones such as iPhone 15 Pro or Pro Max with similar cameras built-in.) These can also be taken using other high-end phones with similar cameras built-in.)

Since 2013, I’ve been both hopeful and frustrated by the potential of 3-D photos and videos. Being an obsessive camera dad, I’ve long anticipated when 3-D images would provide enough detail that allows me to experience family memories rather than looking at grainy snapshots.

As I studied spatial photos and videos captured with Apple’s Vision Pro, it dawned upon me that an important milestone had arrived. Apple demonstrated with stunning images from an adorable kids birthday party scene as well as video footage showing mom making bubbles for daughter and family gathering at kitchen table – each scene felt very real, thanks to 3-D camera realism adding depth. Each scene gave me chills as I imagined remembering my son’s first steps over time.

Not everyone may understand, but Apple’s spatial photos and videos spoke directly to my heart; other camera-obsessed parents might justify its steep price for its home movie potential alone.

However, I was less than enthusiastic when it came to the tasks associated with work.

Apple has touted their Vision Pro as the ideal spatial computer for desk workers; users can customize their ideal work setup anywhere with virtual windows they can resize, move and combine with real Mac displays.

Although I did not get the opportunity to write columns or host podcasts with Vision Pro, I did gain experience web browsing and typing; unfortunately my experience was far from impressive.

Vision Pro’s pinch-and-drag scrolling gesture was more challenging than using regular mice or track pads, while typing on its virtual keyboard proved slow and cumbersome when compared with physical keys or track pads (I found typing “nytimes.com” into Safari took more than one minute). Any real work would likely necessitate connecting Bluetooth keyboard and mouse sets – negating one of its main selling points of portability.

Calls may not fare much better: although I was unable to test FaceTime on the Vision Pro or third-party video conferencing apps like Zoom myself, other reviewers have given Personas — Apple’s attempt at creating an avatar to represent you during video calls — an unfavorable review score.

Keynote, Apple’s slide show app that lets users practice presentations virtually in virtual conference rooms or stages; however, this felt more like a fun pastime than an effective productivity booster.

Apple hopes that its Vision Pro will appeal to fans of cinematic and gaming experiences.

My demo included several movie clips, such as an extract from “Super Mario Brothers 3-D,” Star Wars trailer trailer and Apple-produced clips like footage from a soccer game and of scuba diver swimming with sharks. Furthermore, an interactive video in which a butterfly landed on my finger while a dinosaur leapt off screen towards me as well as one where an audience member held up my finger so the butterfly landed there instead was included as well as one where an audience member held it up so the butterfly landed there instead.

These clips were remarkable; their technology was truly astounding; it rendered such detailed imagery on such small screens that I felt queasy watching one clip featuring a tightrope walker suspended high above a canyon.

Though I had similar experiences on other virtual reality headsets, the Vision Pro’s movie-watching experience wasn’t distinctive enough for me to justify its cost. Furthermore, several popular entertainment services like Netflix and YouTube don’t yet provide compatible apps with it, forcing you to rely on Apple TV or another compatible service such as Disney+ for an immersive experience.

No, I do not see myself interested in playing games with the Vision Pro given its current selection of limited games available on it. Without external controllers and its lack of fine-grain movement and rapid button pressing makes working out in it too dangerous; not to mention risking ruining it with my sweat?

Show-Offs and Shut-Ins

My demonstration revealed two essential lessons; aside from realizing I need more time with it to fully appreciate its capabilities; one was that Apple designed Vision Pro so as to fit seamlessly into its surroundings while remaining visible at all times.

Apple has carefully avoided positioning its Vision Pro as something that replaces or isolates you in some sci-fi metaverse. Instead, they want it to feel as natural and unobtrusive as picking up an iPhone or AirPods.

But that won’t be happening anytime soon.

Vision Pro’s power lies largely within fully immersive virtual reality (V.R.) experiences rather than “augmented reality” situations where virtual objects overlay your physical surroundings. Apple has made switching between the virtual and physical realms simpler; however, some friction remains when switching back and forth between them.

V.R. headsets remain uncommon enough that they tend to draw attention, which explains why Vision Pro’s target market consists of both show-offs (who want their Apple gadget to draw stares) and shut-ins (those who rarely leave the house anyway, thus rendering stares irrelevant).

Though its novelty may fade over time, its subtlety remains an important factor when trying to remain discreet when wearing their Vision Pro device. Apple has created something too exciting and revolutionary that cannot be disregarded.

Corrected on January 31 2024: An earlier version of this column incorrectly identified the latest high-end iP phone.

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