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The Vision Pro – I finally get it!

Now I’m excited…

The Vision Pro

On and off I have spent the last year covering the Vision Pro in one way or another.

As news started to ramp up early last year that 2023 would finally be the year that Apple’s AR/VR headset would be unveiled I began to write stories and make videos about it.

I also had a stroke of good fortune – needing some renders for these stories and videos, I came across a bit of a genius – Marcus Kane. Since that first phone call, we’ve made endless countless content together.

We’ve speculated and printed off a 3D version of what we believed the headset would look like. We watched WWDC together last year on a live stream as Tim Cook announced the Vision Pro and have recently made videos talking about the specs and the finished article now that it is finally on sale.

I’ve always stressed and admitted that I’ve never been into AR/VR and have never worn a headset. Marcus on the other hand uses one daily and this is an area he believes in passionately – and after a year of talking about it, now…NOW I get it!

The future waits

As we wait in the UK for the Vision Pro to land in our stores I binged as many videos as possible over the past few days to get an idea of what it is all about.

When I chatted with Marcus I could sense his enthusiasm oozing out of him but being a newbie I couldn’t fully get why – but boy oh boy I do now.

Where to start…?

For the longest while, questions were asked about whether this device would be too big and heavy for gaming or even for working out. Where were the Apple Fitness apps – all the while Apple knew that was not where this version of the Vision Pro would sit. In the future sure – but not now.

I think Apple is fairly honest about the fact this is very much the first step on a long journey to where all this could finally end up. That end game is glasses but we are years away from that utopia – but now this first massive step has been taken I bet the rate of progress is going to be staggering.

Because it’s Apple AR/VR as a platform is now getting attention which can only be a good thing for its progress. After years of being an almost cult area, it’s now about to go mainstream – all because of the Vision Pro and the attention it’s getting.

Where I’d thought this headset wouldn’t be for me I can see now just how wrong I was. It’s almost perfectly aimed at someone like me – it’s a production tool which I didn’t see coming.

I am not a multi-monitor kind of worker. I have my MacBook Pro on one side and my Studio Display right in front of me – that’s how I am working right now. If you’ve read me for any length of time you’ll know I love working on large displays. Other than writing, the work I do screams out for screen real estate.

You know where I am going with this, don’t you…

When I saw the Vision Pro being used as a display for MacBooks my jaw physically dropped. Apple has far from got everything right with this first iteration – but by god, let’s give them credit for the bits they have got right.

I’m not gonna lie and pretend for one moment that I’m a cool, hip coffee shop kinda creative but having the ability to work anywhere excites me on a large – VERY large monitor in 4K at nearly Retina quality excites me. Moving large displays around – I sometimes take the Studio Display from home to the studio space and I can tell you it is a proper pain. Ok, I’ll admit it’s a first-world problem but with Vision Pro that would be a thing of the past – MacBook and the Vision Pro in my backpack and I am set! My MacBook screen is large and centre with other apps and pages open to either side – my dream setup!

But that is merely the start.

Walking into view

It was inevitable that on day one there would be the Apple haters looking to find fault with the headset – and sadly there are two areas in which Apple played right into their hands – EyeSight and Personas.

Dropping the jargon EyeSight is the bit where you can see the wearer’s eyes on the outside of the panel and Personas are the avatars that are created for FaceTime calls. In all of the press shots and images used by Apple in the run-up to the release, it seemed as if the eyes would be a pixel-perfect depiction of our eyes. What we actually have is a very weird lo-res wonky image peering out at us.

I bet Apple knows this looks pretty embarrassing as it stands but it was never going to be dropped. Tim Cook has always been vocal that if Apple went down the AR/VR route he wanted it to be as inclusive as possible so you can bet they’ll be leaning into this and pretty soon – in the blink of an eye you could argue, we’ll end up with what was initially promised.

As for the Personas again they have fallen short, way short of expectations – but this is another critical part of the future of the Vision Pro. Similar to how Cook wants to make sure that wearing their device doesn’t remove you further from reality he also sees it as a way of being able to make the world a smaller place.

While we may be a long way from truly bringing friends and family into the room with us you can bet that this is where this will end up – and that future excites me. Spatial video too is another feature that is geared towards tearing down distance and helping to create memories and bring us all closer.

I’ve lost both my parents and only have a few video reminders of them – but what I’d give to have had some spatial 3D videos of them…sure I have my memories but how much more vivid would they be if I had these Spatial video reminders…

Vision Pro is held back

Outside of those two flawed areas, I reckon Apple has smashed it with this first release. How quickly we progress from here is anyone’s guess, but now that Apple has pulled the rip cord, I reckon things will move at pace.

The biggest problem that the Vision Pro has is now – in other words the technical restraints that we have in 2024. The weight and bulk of the headset we know is considerable but we have to start somewhere. Those Sony OLED displays are amazing – a design milestone but are both costly and chunky. But again as I keep saying, this is the first version and now it’s out there in the real world, all the feedback and data that Apple will gather will help make versions 2, 3 & 4 so much better

And speaking of those displays – let’s not overlook this is the first device that I can think of that our eyes are now used as both input and output devices. The fact we can simply look at an app to open it was the stuff of sci-fi only a year ago – yet now it’s reality! Just let that sink in for a moment.

The field of view is again not perfect but it’s pretty remarkable. The other marvel is the way that it is only the app or picture you are looking at that is crisp, sharp and in 100% focus. Just like our eyes everything in the periphery is softened and slightly blurred – again making the experience more real.

The detail and thought that has gone into this is staggering – and I’m a little embarrassed that I’m only now getting just how defining this moment is.

The passthrough – which was always going to be something that the Vision Pro would be judged on seems to be spectacular. The fact I saw people on the videos I’ve been watching being able to catch balls thrown at them and even play table tennis…in a VR headset!! It’s crazy – just crazy.

The hand occlusion again just works – marry that to the passthrough and this AR/VR experience is about as good as it gets.

The waiting game

As I said earlier in the UK we must wait.

I know some have chosen to import a headset – good luck to them is all I can say – it’s not a risk I’d want to take. But when they do land here, hopefully by the summer I will be one of the first to book my 30-minute demo.

If you’ve noticed some energy in this story – good! I have not felt this alive and vibrant about a device for ages – possibly since my first Blackberry!

We have seen the march of the web and more recently Apple silicon revolutionising computing and then AI. The Vision Pro is the next step – a meaningful augmented reality is now within touching distance – sorry about the pun!

I want to pinch myself to make sure that I recall these times. I hate I was so slow grasping what this headset was all about – but now I can’t get enough of it!

Do I want one – hell yes! Will I get one…that depends. It is £3500 but I no longer think that it’s expensive when you take a look at what you get. I’d stop short of saying it’s good value – but I do think it fairly represents what’s in the box.

With Medium not paying out at the moment and YouTube slow it’s fair to say I’m not rolling in it at the moment – but then there is only one chance to experience this.

I’ve held off buying the S24 Ultra for now at least but do have my eyes on an OLED iPad Pro if they get the spring release we expect – oh and they are rumoured to be costing around £2000 – but then there is the Vision Pro.

The Vision Pro could just change everything…

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