Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Apple Vision Pro Reviews

Nilay Patel (Hacker News):

Apple’s settled for building a headset with real-time video passthrough — it is the defining tradeoff of the Vision Pro. It is a VR headset masquerading as an AR headset. And let me tell you: the video passthrough on the Vision Pro is really good.

[…]

The Vision Pro simply doesn’t work like that — you have to be looking at something in order to click on it, and that means you are constantly taking your attention away from whatever you’re working on to specifically look at the button you need to press next.

[…]

You can open as many apps as you want and put them anywhere you want in space. You can open windows in the kitchen, walk away from them and open some more in the living room, and then go back to the kitchen to find all your old windows waiting for you.

[…]

Your Mac thinks it’s connected to a 5K display with a resolution of 5120 x 2880, and it runs macOS at a 2:1 logical resolution of 2560 x 1440, just like a 5K display. […] That virtual display is then streamed as a 4K 3560 x 2880 video to the Vision Pro, where you can just make it as big as you want. The upshot of all of this is that 4K content runs at a native 4K resolution — it has all the pixels to do it, just like an iMac — but you have a grand total of 2560 x 1440 to place windows in, regardless of how big you make the Mac display in space, and you’re not seeing a pixel-perfect 5K image.

[…]

There are a lot of ideas in the Vision Pro, and they’re all executed with the kind of thoughtful intention that few other companies can ever deliver at all, let alone on the first iteration. But the shocking thing is that Apple may have inadvertently revealed that some of these core ideas are actually dead ends — that they can’t ever be executed well enough to become mainstream. This is the best video passthrough headset ever made, and that might mean camera-based mixed reality passthrough could just be a road to nowhere. This is the best hand- and eye-tracking ever, and it feels like the mouse, keyboard, and touchscreen are going to remain undefeated for years to come. There is so much technology in this thing that feels like magic when it works and frustrates you completely when it doesn’t.

Adi Robertson (via Ric Ford):

Yet as I’ve watched the Vision Pro go from announcement to release, it’s also seemed held back by something that has little to do with hardware. Apple is trying to create the computer of the future, but it’s doing so under the tech company mindset of the present: one obsessed with consolidation, closed ecosystems, and treating platforms as a zero-sum game.

[…]

For all its problems, the Vision Pro is giving us our first glimpse of a computer born into the era of walled gardens... and it’s hard not to wonder what we’re missing as a result.

Joanna Stern (Hacker News):

There is a built-in virtual keyboard so you can type in thin air. But it will drive you mad for anything longer than a short message. And selecting smaller buttons with a pinch should be a carnival game. I started getting real work done once I paired the Vision Pro with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse.

[…]

There’s a lot of amazing tech at play: The system uses cameras to track eye, hand and face movements in real time. But if everyone I call either falls over laughing or recoils in horror, what good is it? Apple says the [Persona] feature is in beta.

[…]

I worried about wielding a knife, but there’s no noticeable latency between what you see on screen and what’s really happening. Everything is a bit pixelated, but on the plus side, your eyes don’t tear up when you’re cutting onions!

The “wow” moment came at the stove when I dragged one timer over the boiling pasta and another over the browning mushrooms. They just hovered until time was up.

[…]

Apple’s headset has all the characteristics of a first-generation product: It’s big and heavy, its battery life sucks, there are few great apps and it can be buggy.

John Gruber:

I’ve used it for hours at a time without any discomfort, but fatigue does set in, from the weight alone. You never forget that you’re wearing it.

[…]

The virtual keyboard is better than trying to type on an Apple Watch, but not by much. […] This little HUD lets you see what you’re typing while keeping your eyes on the physical keyboard. It’s weird but in a good way. One week in and it still brings a smile to my face to have a physical keyboard with tappable autocomplete suggestions.

[…]

The fundamental interaction model in VisionOS feels like it will be copied by all future VR/AR headsets, in the same way that all desktop computers work like the Mac, and all phones and tablets now work like the iPhone.

[…]

EyeSight is not an “Oh my god, I can see your eyes!” feature, but instead more of an “Oh, yes, now that you ask, I guess I can sort of see your eyes” feature. Apple seemingly went to great lengths (and significant expense) to create the EyeSight feature, but so far I’ve found it to be of highly dubious utility, if only because it’s so subtle. It’s like wearing tinted goggles meant to obscure you, not clear goggles meant to show your eyes clearly.

[…]

Vision Pro is simply a phenomenal way to watch movies, and 3D immersive experiences are astonishing. There are 3D immersive experiences in Vision Pro that are more compelling than Disney World attractions that people wait in line for hours to see.

[…]

Spatial computing in VisionOS is the real deal. It’s a legit productivity computing platform right now, and it’s only going to get better. It sounds like hype, but I truly believe this is a landmark breakthrough like the 1984 Macintosh and the 2007 iPhone.

Mark Spoonauer:

The Apple Vision Pro is a truly amazing product that delivers futuristic eye- and hand-tracking interface along with breathtaking 3D video and truly impressive AR apps. It’s also a magical way to extend your Mac. But there’s some early performance bugs that need to be worked out, the battery can get in the way, and Digital Persona is a bit creepy and needs work.

Scott Stein:

The headset is the best wearable display I’ve ever put on. But at its price, and with so few VisionOS apps at launch, the Vision Pro isn’t a device I’d recommend to any of my friends or family. If you’re in the immersive industry and can afford one, then that’s another story. But for anyone else, I’d recommend you get a free demo at an Apple Store, marvel at its features and wait and see.

[…]

Will I carry Vision Pro around like a computer? In the Apple travel case (sold separately for $199), the Vision Pro is like a very bulbous set of headphones. It’s bigger than my large backpack can hold. Also, I’d need a keyboard and trackpad. A laptop or iPad is a more portable option, and less in need of special packing care.

MacRumors:

You can watch Justine Ezarik, Marques Brownlee, and Brian Tong testing their Personas on a FaceTime call in the video below[…]

Quinn Nelson:

The most surprising takeaway from all the Vision Pro reviews/videos is how universally awful the EyeSight display is. Until today, I expected it to be super important to the “I’m still in the real world” experience. Now, I’m 95% sure it’ll be canned by the 2nd gen.

Benjamin Mayo:

One such limit is that the Vision Pro home screen of apps is not organizable in visionOS 1.0. As noted by Brian Tong in his video review, the system currently does not let the user reorder their grid of apps […] You can navigate between pages by swiping with your hand. But if your favorite apps start with letters at the back half of the alphabet, there’s currently no way to move them to the first or second page to make accessing them more convenient. You also can’t make folders to group related apps together.

Another potential thing to be aware of is that you cannot create home screen icons for websites. The ‘Add to Home Screen’ button in Safari is simply not present on visionOS at the moment.

Tim Hardwick:

Marques Brownlee in his unboxing video also described the battery as “pretty heavy,” and compared it to phones with larger capacity 5,000+ mAh batteries that feel “much lighter.”

[…]

The external battery pack that comes with the Vision Pro is silver, has a proprietary connector for attaching to the headset, and a USB-C port for charging via the included 30W wall charger. The proprietary connector is connected to the Vision Pro by rotating it a quarter turn to lock it into place.

For those considering buying an additional $200 battery pack, one thing to bear in mind is that Vision Pro batteries are not hot-swappable[…]

John Siracusa:

Where Vision Pro may stumble is in its interface to the deep, spatial world it provides. We all know how to reach out and “directly manipulate” objects in the real world, but that’s not what Vision Pro asks us to do. Instead, Vision Pro requires us to first look at the thing we want to manipulate, and then perform an “indirect” gesture with our hands to operate on it.

Is this look-then-gesture interaction any different than using a mouse to “indirectly” manipulate a pointer? Does it leverage our innate spatial abilities to the same extent? Time will tell. But I feel comfortable saying that, in some ways, this kind of Vision Pro interaction is less “direct” than the iPhone’s touch interface, where we see a thing on a screen and then literally place our fingers on it.

Francisco Tolmasky:

Literally the number one thing I heard from so many people was something along the lines of “just being able to have multiple monitors all around me makes the Vision Pro worthwhile!” And it turns out it can’t do that.

Apple:

Meet some of the incredible teams building for visionOS, and get answers from Apple experts on spatial design and creating great apps for Apple Vision Pro.

Juli Clover:

Apple has sold upwards of 200,000 Vision Pro headsets, MacRumors has learned from a source with knowledge of Apple's sales numbers.

See also: John Voorhees, Om Malik, MacRumors, 9to5Mac, Matthew Cassinelli, Dithering.

Previously:

Update (2024-02-05): Philip Rosedale:

I found myself at one point actually resting my chin in my hand with my elbow on the table because… it’s that heavy. And I am a large strong person used to wearing these things. Way too heavy for prolonged use. You have to tighten it too your face really hard because of the single strap, and it felt more uncomfortable at the contact points with your face than the Quest. When Aaron took his AVP off, the red ring on his face was comical…

[…]

I do think the UX and in particular using the gaze as a pointer shows a path to genuinely new ways of interfacing with computers, once the weight can be reduced by (at least) 2X. But there is no short-term line of sight to how that level of weight reduction could be achieved, given that we can be sure Apple tried very hard and are excellent industrial designers. And as I mentioned earlier, the most vital capability for healthy usage - being able to easily communicate with other people while wearing it - remains to be explored.

Adam Engst:

The $3499 list price is just the beginning. That model has 256 GB of storage; 512 GB costs $3699 and 1 TB is $3899. Given the size of 3D content, apps, and your Photos library, 256 GB may not be enough. Many will also need the Zeiss optical inserts: $99 for readers or $149 for prescription lenses. Apple’s padded carrying case for travel runs another $199, and AppleCare+—almost certainly essential—costs $499. You could also pay $199 for a backup battery pack and $199 for another light seal cushion if someone else in your household wants to try it. It would be easy to spend $5000 on a kitted-out Vision Pro.

[…]

Several reviewers briefly mentioned that there’s a Guest mode that lets someone else try out a Vision Pro, and iJustine demos it with a friend. From what I can tell, though, it’s designed for demos, not for regular sharing with someone else in your family.

[…]

The most important thing to remember about the Vision Pro is that it’s not for “the rest of us.” It’s not even clear who the Vision Pro is for—there is no killer app yet. Apple is planting seeds for developers, early adopters, and the tech curious who are willing to spend big to be on the bleeding edge. To be sure, Apple also wants to get ahead of Meta and other companies that may want to stake out similar territory. The hope is that the Vision Pro will provide everyone—Apple, developers, and users—with the experience necessary to work toward a point where the technology has evolved sufficiently that it can become a mainstream product at an affordable price.

Paris Marx (via doekman):

The Vision Pro looks sleek in an Apple-y way, but it also looks pretty ridiculous. The company clearly imagines us wearing this headset throughout our days and interacting with people as if there isn’t a large device strapped to our heads, occasionally displaying an eery representation of our eyes. That feature is designed to show the headset isn’t isolating, and is rather an “augmented reality” piece of hardware. While I’m sure the distinction between augmented and virtual reality matters to some people, what I observed in the presentation was just how little difference it makes.

[…]

The emphasis was on work and the notion that it should be normal to wear a headset throughout your day. You can understand the emphasis on work, especially given the headset’s price tag (which we’ll get to later), but ultimately if this is the direction computing is set to go in the next ten or fifteen years, we’re in for an even more dismal future than the one Silicon Valley has so far shouldered us with.

John Gruber:

And, like the butterfly from Encounter Dinosaurs that some people can feel landing on their outstretched finger, I swear to you, I can almost feel the telekinetic connection with UI elements in VisionOS. It’s a hint, a whiff, of tension — between not just my hands and the virtual elements I’m manipulating, but between my mind and those elements. Just the vaguest sensation of tension emanating from my forehead, like a taut thread of ultrafine string connecting my mind to the window I’m moving, or button I’m pressing, or photo I’m stretching.

With Vision Pro, the gestures are necessary, because the device can’t actually read your mind. (At least not in this first-generation version.)

Boris Yurkevich:

There’s a strong Sci-Fi vibe I am getting from the media and press. It feels like we just made the next step into the future.

Update (2024-02-06): Manton Reece:

Amazing video from Casey Neistat going around New York City wearing the Vision Pro. My opinion keeps alternating between “I need this now” and “no one should ever have this”…

Jamie Zawinski:

Are we just gonna keep calling them glassholes, or is there a new word yet?

Dave Mark:

Reminds me of how weird AirPods looked when they first started popping up in public. Now they are ubiquitous.

I’m a believer. Vision Pro is going to be a big part of Apple’s future.

Ben Thompson (Hacker News):

First off, the user interface is exceptionally difficult to manage once you have multiple windows on the screen, particularly when windows are arranged on the z-axis (i.e. nearer or closer to you in 3-D space); one gets the sense that the usability of iOS-based operating systems are inversely correlated to their screen size. Second, while the eye tracking is an incredible feat of engineering, it is not nearly as precise as it needs to be for productive window management.

The biggest limitation, though, is hardware: the Vision Pro field of view is very narrow, in a way I didn’t fully appreciate while only using one app in that demo (Apple hasn’t reported the number, but it is noticeably narrower than the Quest 3’s 110°). This becomes immediately apparent when you have more than two or so apps open: if you want room for more, without encountering the z-axis issues I noted above, you better get ready to physically move your head or body (this is exacerbated by the fact that Vision Pro apps are very large, even if you have chosen the “small” preference; I would like them to be half the size they present as).

The net result is that the Vision Pro, at least in its current incarnation, does not come close to being the productivity tool I was so excited about last summer, when I wrote that I suspected the Vision Pro was “the future of the Mac”, and that’s even before getting to the limitations of Apple’s iOS-based operating system in terms of app capabilities and business models. That latter point, along with the limitations of eye-tracking as a default user-interface model, also makes me worry that new and better hardware won’t change this reality.

Wes Davis:

The Vision Pro subreddit is naturally offering a taste of how Apple’s vision is landing with people who decide to take the plunge.

Jason Snell:

In the meantime, I’ve gotten a bunch of questions from readers and listeners about the device, so I thought I’d make my first piece about the Vision Pro an FAQ story.

Filipe Espósito:

Although the front glass on the Vision Pro has proven to be quite resistant to accidental damage, new tests show that it is highly susceptible to scratches.

Luke Wroblewski:

Is Apple now locked in a habit of porting their ecosystem from screen to screen to screen? And, as a result, tethered to too many constraints, requirements, and paradigms about what an app is and we should interact with it? Were they burned by skeuomorphic design and no longer want to push the user interface in non-conventional ways?

Garrett Murray:

Feature request for iOS: Give me a setting to unlock my phone with Optic ID via Vision Pro when I’m wearing it. Currently I have to cancel Face ID and unlock with my passcode every time which is silly.

Francisco Tolmasky:

I keep putting my hands behind by head and leaning back in my chair while using it (like in this image below). Pinching to click of course does not work when I’m like this, and it’s so unbelievably annoying. Apple makes such a huge deal about it working “anywhere”, and you get so used to your eyes being the controllers, that it feels like a school teacher telling you not to slouch or something when it inevitably and, at least for me, frequently doesn’t work.

[…]

Speaking of environments, wow, what a let down. They go away the second you move! Maybe this was obvious to everyone else, but I thought I’d be able to explore a little bit. Like I dunno, a few meters around me? Nothing crazy, just enough so that if I want to stretch my legs I still feel like I’m “there”. But no, the second you move 3 feet, it just disappears. It already didn’t seem that “real” to me, but this really makes it feel like just a picture to me.

Daniel Jalkut:

I keep discovering new amazing things about Apple Vision Pro. I hesitated to buy this because I thought I’d regret it, but it’s increasingly unlikely I’ll return it. It’s such a game changer. Naysayers are all wrong or will be in 1-2 years.

Update (2024-02-14): See also:

Update (2024-02-16): See also:

Update (2024-02-21): Wade Tregaskis:

I was really surprised to see pixels. Immediately. Even though I was already aware – mainly from John’s stumbling over the topic on ATP – that the PPD (Pixels per Degree) is actually quite poor on the Vision Pro, at just 34. A “Retina display” at typical viewing distances is around 100. Even an ancient non-Retina Apple display is about 50.

[…]

Furthermore, unlike the original Macintosh’s screen – which at least had quite crisp pixels – the Vision Pro is blurry as well. That surprised me less – I figured there might be some calibration required, which was perhaps unintentionally skipped by the buggy demo unit. But my Apple Store handler didn’t seem to think so, yet seemed surprised by my comments (that the view was pixelated and blurry). He had no real answer to that. He implied (by omission) that my experience was normal. 😕

[…]

The other thing I noticed within a literal second of using the unit is that the artificial visuals jitter – jump randomly about by a pixel or two. All the time. It’s less noticeable in full VR mode where you have no objective reference in the form of real world objects, but in AR mode everything displayed by the Vision Pro is shaking. I was able to mostly ignore it throughout the demo – but only with conscious effort. Any time I let my mind or vision wander in the slightest, the shaking immediately bothered me once more.

15 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

> Apple has sold upwards of 200,000 Vision Pro headsets

Is 200,000 a good number in the TV-set industry?

Just asking because based on the review, this product is only good for watching movies, just like the Apple Watch ended up being only good as a fitness band.

LOL. I laugh because that’s true, my wife and I got Apple Watches a year and a half ago and I only use it to track health vitals, exercise, check the outdoor temp, set a timer, and occasionally to adjust volume or skip a song when playing something over airplay (via my iPhone). Never use any of the other built in or 3rd party apps. Very different from my iPhone, iPad, and Mac where I use dozens of 3rd party apps on a regular basis.

Steve said it himself. His one worry.

“Tim’s not a product guy.”

> Just asking because based on the review, this product is only good for watching movies, just like the Apple Watch ended up being only good as a fitness band.

Hey now, that watch is darn good for a load of other things that fitness band cannot do. Like: decibel alerts when using power tools; endless timers when teaching IRL; recording conversations, lectures, and heady meetings; a soft nudge from techno-spouse to WTFU already; a light while walking dogs at night, bright to see, red so bikes and farmers know you're there; talking to my spouse when up on a ladder using power tools and my phone is on a bench next to the Bluetooth speaker ... I guess it does fitness stuff too. The missing feature is the "washing dishes" activity so I can get those points for labor and not have Apple treat me like I keep washing my hands for 35 minutes.

"Vision Pro is simply a phenomenal way to watch movies, and 3D immersive experiences are astonishing. There are 3D immersive experiences in Vision Pro that are more compelling than Disney World attractions that people wait in line for hours to see".

Just support prescription lenses with Apple Vision Pro. Or sell two models: one not supporting prescription lenses (current one), and other only to watch 3D movies (or any movie on large area), allowing prescription glasses (which would also be a much much, much cheaper model, selling like hotcakes). Problem solved for all.

Probably Apple will not do that, unless forced to do it. If sales of the current Apple Vision Pro are scarce and people ask for the other model, Apple could make it. That would be awesome.

Prescription lenses are supported. Just send Apple your prescription, and they'll send you some snap-in lenses to match.

Taking your attention away from whatever you’re working on to specifically look at the button you need to press next sounds like a real pain -- we learn to touch-type / click on things without looking at them, because looking elsewhere breaks the flow. That's one of the reasons people like physical knobs in cars, and don't like all these flat screens.

professorplasma

Over a hundred thousand presales, and despite the potential for much more advanced computing and developing with the hardware the vast majority of users are going to be using it for media consumption. It will go on to sell millions per year, never gaining much traction compared to the iPhone but still pulling in enough profit to be its own Fortune 500. I am of course talking about the iPad.

The lawyers I know swear by Apple watches. Those watches let them stay in touch without disrupting courtroom proceedings or important meetings. Looking at one's phone is considered bad form in court, but no one thinks twice if you glance at your watch.

Apple seems to have taken their success with audio pass through as a go-ahead for video pass through. A big beef with personal audio from the days of the Walkman was that headphones cut one off from what was around one. Audio pass through let more of the real world seep through. Video pass through has yet to be proven. Given how awkward it is to put on and take off a 3D headset, pass through could be the feature that leads to more general acceptance. In five years, those headsets will be lighter, have better power arrangements and lag times will be shorter, so I can see why Apple is giving AR/VR a try.

I've seen a couple of reviews talking about how the visionOS interaction model is to look at something and then indirectly act on it with some motion(s) with your hands rather than reaching out and touching/grabbing with your hand(s), and implying that it will hard for people to get used to. That may be true, but I don't see how it could work any other way. I think people would tire quickly if they had to reach out with their hands/arms for every interaction. Telepathy isn't possible at this point, and I don't see people learning to do semaphores with their eyelids.

Sure, it's going to take time. But, remember all the people that said the iPhone was DOA because it didn't have a physical keyboard?

@DJ, most other VR headsets I've seen come with some form of controller that can turn into a virtual pointer.

The PSVR2 also does eyetracking, and uses this form of interaction, and I never felt it was particularly cumbersome. For something you're supposed to wear as an AR device, certainly more convenient than requiring a controller.

From what I understand, you can pair any Bluetooth mice/trackpads/keyboards. I assume you can then use a mouse/trackpad for navigation system-wide, right?

@DJ

Magic Trackpad is supported, but mice are not. Keyboards are a mixed bag:

https://9to5mac.com/2024/02/02/apple-vision-pro-bluetooth-support/

Apple is probably hoping that the reddit reviewers are not the typical Vision Pro buyers. Because from what I’m reading, a big number of them are considering returning the product after 14 days.

Also, from the youtube videos of idio… individuals using this product in the outside, it might not be long before we see new nominees for the Darwin awards.

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