Apple Vision Pro Thoughts

It’s a big week for those contemplating buying a Vision Pro. Apple has always prided itself on only releasing products when they are “done.” While I have no doubt that the Vision Pro is done, I also think the use case for the product is far from done…This is a post for MacSparky Labs Members only. Care to join? Or perhaps do you need to sign in?

The Vision Pro Software Question

One of the bigger questions around the looming release of the Vision Pro is software. Specifically, will there be any, and will it be any good? We don’t know yet. We’ve seen some offerings from Apple and some limited offerings from third parties, but now that we have a shipping date on the hardware, announcements are starting to roll out. The Omni Group announced OmniPlan will be on the new hardware. I suspect they’ll be announcing more. This is where the companies that adopted SwiftUI will get their payoff.

But it’s too early to tell whether a healthy software stack will be available to us on Day One. The device could be focused on enterprise-style software, given its cost. But I could equally see a lot of the better developers getting apps on it despite its small initial adoption so that they can have their flag planted. We’ll see.

Vision Pro Launches on February 2

It looks like the rumors got this one right. The Vision Pro will go on sale on the January 19, and deliveries will begin on February 2. No word yet on availability. The rumors are saying that those screens are hard to make and that will limit availability, but at the same time, the device is $3,500. I can’t imagine a lot of people are going to be lining up to pay that much.

(But, of course, I will.)

Spatial Video Demonstrations

John Gruber spent more time with Vision Pro, focusing on the Photos app, including Spatial Video and panoramic photos. In short, John was impressed, and this is just the first iteration of this stuff.

These things are hard to predict. (It took a pandemic for video chat to get legs.) Nevertheless, as families and friends are spread to the four winds, this holodeck-like experience could be a big deal. Moreover, I’ve lost enough people to appreciate how memories fade. My dad died over 30 years ago, and I’d give a lot to be able to feel his presence again, even if just part of a silly spatial video file.

If this takes off, it could become a killer feature for Apple’s future Vision products. And as explained by John, when iOS 17.2 releases you’ll be able to start recording those spatial videos immediately with your iPhone 15 Pro, even if you don’t yet own a Vision Pro headset.

Vision Pro in the Wild

AppleInsider’s Mike Wuerthele got some hands-on time with the Vision Pro and reports in. On the video passthrough, Wuerthele explains, “The part I’ve been most skeptical about is how well the Apple Vision Pro passes through the surroundings to the user. The short version is that it does it very well, with crisp and clear images most of the time.”

I think when it comes to this product, it’s going to need to be something you spend some time with before purchase. I’m curious how they will accommodate that in Apple Stores.

Apple Software Beta Day

Today Apple released the second developer beta builds. This second beta usually deals with any obvious problems from beta 1 plus starts to show the areas where they are willing to reconsider decisions. As users, these early betas are the best time to weigh in on bits we’d like to see changed. The further the train gets down the track, the harder it is to back it up. I’d guess we’ll get beta 3 in another few weeks and, hopefully, before that, a public beta. My fingers are crossed.

Perhaps even more noteworthy, Apple also released the Vision Pro Software Development Kit (SDK). This is the first release of this SDK for the new platform. One of the nice bits about being in Cupertino during WWDC week was observing my indie developer friends’ eyes as they discussed developing for the new platform. To date, there has been no “killer” augmented reality apps. Indie developers plan on changing that.

Early Vision Pro Feedback

Several journalists got to strap into the new Apple Vision Pro headset. Three of my favorite reads are from Matthew Panzarino, Jason Snell, and Chance Miller. I’ve also spoken to several others here in Cupertino that got the demo. Every person I’ve spoken to that got to try Vision Pro praises the technology. This truly is one of those “only Apple” products. There is no other company with the hardware and software expertise to pull it off. The 12-millisecond latency is something that particularly stands out.

The question that we’ll be asking ourselves is how this technology can change our lives. Looking back at the Apple Watch, Apple initially leaned into it as a fashion product but eventually came around to the idea that it is primarily a health and fitness device. I think for the Vision Pro, the killer use case will be even more stratified. Some people will want them to consume content. Imagine having an IMAX-equivalent screen you can strap on your head or watching your favorite sport virtually on the field next to your favorite players. I love the idea of creating virtual workspaces where I could journal in the middle of Yosemite or do some work while enjoying the view from Machu Picchu. I also like the idea of a seemingly 40-foot whiteboard that I could use in my 14-foot office.

The answer to how we’d use this is going to be “it depends on the person.” Can Apple continue to nail and improve upon this technology? Likely. Will this technology reach critical mass as it gets more affordable? That depends on whether there are enough good reasons for it.