Was Apple’s debut of the Vision Pro a look at the future of technology or was it a cringe-inducing disaster? In my opinion, a bit of both.
Let's get one thing out of the way: I think Apple's vision for what work could look like in a VR headset is far more compelling than what Meta has shown with its metaverse products so far. Apple's vision feels much more human, and much more about creating a digital workspace in the real world, and that appeals to me.
That said, I still really don't know if this tech is ready for prime time, and I cringed numerous times during the WWDC presentation when people were acting like absolute lunatics.
It's also worth mentioning that what we saw today was completely theoretical. None of this was direct capture of real software, it was more of a concept video. Yes, I'm sure the UI will look very much like this, but the fidelity and usability of this isn't proven yet. Also, that Disney segment was hilariously CG and the final software simply won't look anything like that (you can quote me on this next year).
What Worked for Me
I think this headset will work well in a few situations, exclusively when you are doing things alone.
- Movies are a great use case, and if the quality of the image I see is about as good as I can get from my 4K TV, then this looks like the killer app for me personally.
- Working at my desk on basic things could work really well too. This won't run macOS, and I have big questions about how iPad apps in this environment will function, but if the software is there, I could see some situations where working on this space could be appealing.
- Being on a video call where I don't have to be on camera would be fun.
What Didn't Work
Basically any time someone used the headset around other people.
- I cringed so hard when the dad took a video of his kid playing. I don't care about the digital eyes peeking through, this feels dystopian to me.
- Likewise, the guy walking around the office with the headset made me chuckle. “There’s Phil, he’s on his computer 100% of the time at work. What a legend.”
- And while I think calling into video calls would work, I would never have my video on with those weird 3D models. We are deep in the uncanny valley, friends.
My Gut Reaction
There’s something here, but a lot of things aren’t fully cooked yet, and the price tag is so astronomically high that it’s going to be a massively niche product for the foreseeable future.
I think people who buy this in 2024 will get a product that lets them interact with software in a way they never have before, and I think there will be magical moments that turn these people into proponents of the platform as “the future,” even if the utility right now is limited.
I also think that the actual things people use this headset for will be things they do alone. As soon as you’re interacting with someone in person, the headset is coming off. Wearing this thing at a kid’s birthday party will be seen as borderline psychotic behavior.
And let’s be real, $3,500 is a lot of money for anyone to drop on anything that isn’t a car or a house. I expect to try and get one out of sheer curiosity (can I make it a business expense?).
Ultimately, we saw Apple’s vision for the 1.0 of this product today. I’m interested to see what it’s like to actually use from journalists and regular users, and I’m excited to see what use cases end up working well and which don’t. Maybe my initial impressions from today will hold up, or maybe they won’t, but it’s going to be an unusually unpredictable time in the Apple space, and that’s pretty exciting.