I recently had the opportunity to demo the new Apple Vision Pro at my local Apple Store, and I have many thoughts. Even though I was intrigued by the product, I decided not to be an early adopter and pre-order sight unseen, mainly due to the high cost. Up until about a year ago, I was skeptical about the idea of VR as a consumer device, but after reviewing the PS VR2, I was sold on the concept. Apple usually waits until they can make a big splash in a market segment before entering it, so I thought the Vision Pro would be the pinnacle of VR as we know it.
What is Apple Vision Pro?
Apple markets Vision Pro as the first spatial computing device, intentionally avoiding categorizing it as either a VR (Virtual Reality) or AR (Augmented Reality) system. Following my experience with the headset, I would categorize it more as an entertainment device.
What Can Apple Vision Pro Do?
Though not a complete computer, Vision Pro currently shares similarities with an iPad. It has the capability to run compatible iPad apps from the App Store, and developers can also create dedicated visionOS apps exclusively for Vision Pro. The iPad apps functioning on Vision Pro appear as flat windowed instances, similar to Safari. The advantage lies in the flexibility to arrange them within your “space” as desired, deviating from the confinement of one or two on the iPad screen.
What Can’t Apple Vision Pro Do?
One notable limitation of Vision Pro is its inability to play VR games akin to those found on Meta Quest or PS VR2. While it’s plausible that similar or ported games may become available for Vision Pro in the future, there are currently none at its launch. It’s crucial to note that Vision Pro is not marketed as a gaming system, and purchasing it with that intention would be a waste of money and technology.
Upon my arrival at the Apple Store at the scheduled time, an Apple specialist guided me through the process. Initially, he handed me an iPhone for a face and head measurement, similar to the Face ID setup. This measurement determined the appropriate size for the light shield of Vision Pro. Shortly after, another Apple employee presented a tray with a headset equipped with a pre-fitted light shield, along with a battery and cable. Something I found funny was the replaceable light shield had a mesh cloth protector on it, presumably to keep face grease from spreading person to person.
The Apple specialist then followed a scripted guide, instructing me on the precise placement of my hands on the headset and the correct method of putting it on my head. Surprisingly, the entire process took about 10 minutes. I anticipated a lengthier experience, but it seems I got all I needed during the brief period I spent in the goggles.
What I Liked
- The overall feel of the device is much more premium and meticulously crafted than any of the other plastic headsets I’ve seen.
- The internal screens you peer into surpass those of the PS VR2, a headset I’ve used extensively. This distinction is evident at first glance.
- The software appears exceptionally refined, with ubiquitous Apple touches suggesting a thoughtful development tailored for mixed reality.
- Spatial videos are a killer feature, reminiscent of how Live Photos changed the way I experience my photos. I intend to intentionally capture Spatial Videos with my iPhone, anticipating the possibility of enjoying them on Vision Pro in the future.
- Panorama photos that you have taken in the past can be displayed as somewhat immersive photos that allow you to see the full perspective of the image.
- Immersive videos (currently only produced by Apple as a demo) are definitely a look at the way we’ll consume media in the future. Whether this is live music performances, sporting events, or nature videos.
- The Speaker Pods project sound downward toward your ears without entering them, unlike AirPods, are excellent. I wish Apple would develop a set of AirPods capable of replicating this design.
What Surprised Me
- The overall weight of the headset was not an issue. It was a lot lighter than I initially thought after reading reviewers complain about the weight on their face.
- The comfortability was beyond my expectation, again after reading reviews of the default head strap. It was much more comfortable and easy to wear compared to my PS VR2.
- I didn’t finish the demo and immediately want to drop thousands of dollars on Vision Pro.
- The eye tracking is good, but nothing revolutionary.
What I Didn’t Like
- While the internal screens are very good, it’s immediately apparent that you’re looking at screens through a camera, rather than at the real world.
Open the camera app on your phone and view your room on the display through the camera. That’s what it’s like inside the goggles, but even a little worse.
- There were several times my hand gestures didn’t work correctly or even register with Vision Pro. About 25% of the time, it did not recognize my two-finger tap to signal an input.
- The field of view, or lack of, is noticeable. So when you’re inside Vision Pro there are visible areas of your peripheral not engulfed in screen. Not dissimilar to wearing ski goggles.
- The disparity between wearing the headset and utilizing the passthrough view within the well-lit Apple Store and removing the headset to see through my own eyes was significant. The existing cameras and screens struggle to capture the full spectrum of light and color in the real world.
- My face was measured to get the correct light seal size, but I did have some light bleed into the goggles. I’m not sure if this is normal, my size was incorrect, or they didn’t have the exact size I needed in store.
- The demo was too short. I would have liked more time to explore Vision Pro.
The Apple Vision Pro is impressive, and I’m excited about the direction the technology is taking. In a few years, I anticipate it becoming as ubiquitous as AirPods. While I’ll be observing from the sidelines for this initial generation, I eagerly await any chance to revisit the device. When Apple decides to release a second-generation Vision Pro with significant upgrades, I’ll be among the first to place an order.
Today I saved at least $3500!