Is Apple Vision Pro the Future?

Like many tech enthusiasts, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the announcements at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference 2023. There had been wild rumors of a new Mac Pro, and a new AR/VR product which would be an absolute game-changer in the world of consumer technology. Is VR the future, just another gadget, or something worse?

My assumption was that Apple would carry on their trend of not being first to market a new piece of tech, but being the company to bring it into the mainstream, such as with the iPad, Apple Watch, and FaceTime video calling. Apple certainly wasn’t the first company to launch a consumer tablet, or smartwatch, or introduce video calling, but they arguably made all of these things much more accessible and mainstream. The word "iPad" is synonymous with consumer tablets, and the Apple Watch is the best-selling watch in the world. Whatever your thoughts on the products, there's no denying that Apple is great at marketing

I’ve heard various tech commentators suggest that Apple is a marketing company first and a tech company second, that’s probably not that much of a stretch. The buzz and the hype that Apple managed to create over relatively small annual cellphone and tablet updates year on year, as well as making refined versions of old concepts exciting again, or making niche gadgets appeal to the mainstream market is really quite impressive in itself.

When I sat down to watch the WWDC 2023 keynote, I am not ashamed to say that I was genuinely excited. I was looking forward to seeing a new piece of tech that could potentially disrupt the consumer tech world. Much to the annoyance of my partner, when Tim Cook put his finger up, I spoke the words “One More Thing” along with him. I guess this is how sports guys feel when watching something exciting happen to their favorite team.

Then came the announcement of Apple Vision Pro, the new AR/VR headset that had been much rumored. I watched the video announcement and found myself amazed by the technology, it really is an impressive piece of kit and an absolute marvel of modern technology. The productivity uses were as expected; being able to create virtual workspaces in your real office that can be as large as you want, and placed anywhere would be great for small working spaces. Seeing someone watch a movie on a virtual big-screen TV that could be placed anywhere in the room was very enticing too. And all of this can be controlled by nothing more than your voice, eye tracking, and hand gestures. The eye tracking technology is especially exciting if it works as they claim. So far, just wow!

Considering how competent Apple has historically proven to be at marketing tech products, it was very interesting to see how they positioned this new product compared with other similar products. Unlike other headsets such as the Meta Quest, there was almost no mention at all of gaming at all, no Beat Saber, or virtual archery to see. The Vision Pro was squarely aimed at the general consumer market; the launch promo showed people who work in offices, people who create content, people who watch movies, people who have families, and people who travel by airplane. This is a product targeted at as much of the general population as possible, not a quirky or niche gadget. The Vision Pro is pitched to give you more space to work in a flexible way, and to enhance your consumption of movies and tv shows, as well as capturing important moments with your family in high quality or even in 3D.

What I hadn’t anticipated was just how uncomfortable I felt watching this technology demo. Features such as the user's eyes being shown on the outside of the device came across as a little creepy. I found myself very uncomfortable watching people walking around their homes with this headset on interacting with their families, especially the interactions with children. Personally, I didn’t like the idea that a person could become completely immersed in a virtual world in their own home with their family shut out. This announcement felt to me like watching an episode of Black Mirror, or some other alternative near-future dystopian world. Considering how excited I was to see what Apple had planned, I didn’t like this at all.

When Apple started to compare this device to a “high-powered computer and home entertainment system” I knew the price was going to be high, the $3,499 launch price was a little higher than I expected but I’m sure the technology alone is worth that much. When I’m looking to buy a home entertainment system, I’d rather one that my whole family can enjoy together, and one which had a longer battery than 2 hours — although you can plug your head-mounted entertainment system into a wall outlet.

Perhaps I’m not in the majority here, but I look forward to evenings on the sofa with my partner watching a movie or binging a series. We might occasionally doom-scroll on our phones because it’s 2023 and we’re all mildly addicted to our devices, but we both appreciate the time together, and I wouldn’t want to put on a headset to immerse myself in a different world. I appreciate this might be a great device for someone who lives alone, lives with family, or in another shared housing arrangement, but it's not for me. I'm also not a gamer, so I'm not used to shutting myself away for extended periods. I even like to do my editing or art in the same room as my family.

For me, Vision Pro is Vision No. At least the battery life is only 2 hours, so you won’t be stuck in a virtual cocoon for too long with this generation of the product, but who knows what Apple Vision Pro 2 will bring?!

One of my favorite parts of my day is when I get home from work, my daughter sees me come in with a big smile on her little face. I don’t care how good the camera and sensors are, or how many pixels are being pumped into my eyes, I always want to see that firsthand.

My reaction to this new device got me thinking about technology and how it’s received by the public. Is this the future of consumer technology? In another 10 years will we see a lot of people walking around with Tony Stark-style glasses on interacting with a virtual world overlayed on the real world? And, more upsettingly, will my generation look at them the same way that members of older generations today don’t understand the appeal of social media, or smartphones?

Is this technology scary and creepy, is AR/VR the future of consumer technology, or am I getting old? Let me know your thoughts in the comments, but please be kind!

Brad Wendes's picture

Brad Wendes is a British photographer and travel lover.
He began photographing parkour and acrobatics in 2010 and has since taken to portraiture and fitness photography.
Brad is a self-confessed geek, Star Wars fan, tech enthusiast, cat lover and recently converted Apple Fanboy.

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Betteridge's law of headlines is an adage that states: "Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no."

Can also be answered by the word yes.

The point being that, instead of telling us this is the future, a headline like this leaves readers to answer no. It's basically suggesting that the writer's opinion is questionable right off the bat.

The writers opinion is questionable. The article is an opinion which makes no solid conclusions. The article is an open question for discussion - which I thought would be interesting

An interesting statement, but I’d agree that most questions which can be answered “yes” could also be answered “no”.
As this is an opinion article, I gave my opinion and asked for the opinions of the readers. The Vision Pro hasn’t been released yet, so any thoughts on its impact will be purely speculative.

The opinion I’d like is on the technology in question, rather than the article title.

When I first saw the iPhone all those years ago, immediately I knew I wanted one. I had to wait a bit for it to become available in the UK. It was a solution that solved a number of problems in one.

I don't have the same feeling with AVP, it seems to be a great solution looking for a problem.

Knowing Apple it will find the problem and then everyone will go "WOW, I never knew that problem existed".

I feel meh about AVP, but will see how it develops, you never know, I may have a problem of which I am completely unaware.

That’s pretty much where I’m at with it. AVP is an incredibly Apple product, it’s an amazing piece of tech, but it feels like they don’t know what it’s for just yet.
The announcement was a big of a muddle, and was weird to watch.

You’re right, Apple will absolutely find a way to tell us how it will improve our lives, once they figure that out themselves

What problem is this solving?
Disconnect from reality?
Do we need more isolation in 2023?
We need more socialization, more real interaction with other people and places.
While this device may be a technological marvel, I, for one don't want it.
Technology is not the answer for everything.
Hard NO.

That’s where I’m at with this thing too. The high resolution, low latency displays are promising for content creation on large virtual screens without takin* up much real world space. I think there’s absolutely potential for the technology to take off.
The consumer uses bothered me, as an evolution of the smartphone and a method of disconnecting from the real world, I don’t like it.

I am autistic.
I need more isolation.
I need less socialisation, less interaction with people.
I need a low stimulation environment.
Technology is not always a solution.
What does this offer me?
Definitely a no.

I think the world changed the day Apple unveiled this, in the same way as when the iphone came out. A transformative piece of technology that can make things both better and worse.

Absolutely agree. This feels like it could be the new “iPhone moment”.
Whether it’s technology is useful and/or good for society remains to be seen.

The consumer uses of this type of technology worry me

This will replace the iPhone when it can fit in normal looking transparent glasses. I just don’t know if that is a few years or a few decades away.

That’s where I think it’s heading too. Steve Jobs spoke about how amazing “headphones for the eyes” would be one day. This is the technology we’re starting to see come through now.

On board with this thinking.

It's not going to be replacing smartphones anytime soon, but I can totally see it replacing laptops in the not too distant future. If it can run everything a Macbook air can run, on several large virtual screens, if you can edit photos and videos on it, if you can travel with just the headset and a keyboard and have everything you need to work anywhere, I might just be in.

It's just the first step toward the next generation of technological advancement. We would be remised to think that Apple will not find a way to sell these to families and create ways for them to enjoy the benefits together.

In my brief experience with the Meta quest, which looks to be a toy compared to this, experiences like watching movies, playing games, or working are greatly enhanced in a virtual world. I am excited for it and will likely be an early adopter.

Interesting that you mentioned the Meta Quest for matching movies. My experience with the Meta Quest was somewhat different, it was a fun experience for games and virtual environments, but I wouldn’t want to watch a movie on it, and I was ready to put it down after 10mins of use.

I don’t doubt that wearables and “headphones for your eyes” are the future of consumer tech. It still makes me uncomfortable

The Quest 2 due to it's displays and lenses is really less than ideal for watching movies, the sweet spot isn't big enough. But there are other standalone VR headsets out now that are great for watching movies on cinema sized screens and larger. I have a Pico 4 and generally only watch movies on that now. I feel like I have to squint at my 65" tv, whereas I actually have to turn my head a little to look from one side of the virtual cinema screen to the other.

Not every aspect of any sort of revolution appeals to everybody.

I've seen reviews of the Vision Pro referring to its anticipated shortfalls as a gaming device and inexplicably denigrating its use for recording 3D videos. In the former case, those writers are missing the point, as the Vision Pro is not being positioned (at least initially) as a gaming headset - those users are simply not the intended market. In the latter case, those commenters are also clearly not the intended market, as the 3D video capability is likely to be the greatest (and most revolutionary) feature.

People would give anything to relive experiences with deceased loved ones. Parties, vacations, conversations, etc. The perceived obtrusiveness of recording those videos into the experience being shared in real-time will diminish both with the gradual acceptance of the new device into everyday life and with its evolution over several years into a slimmer, less bulky form factor.

Eventually, recorded 3D videos of every description will be a billion dollar industry. Spaceflight, mountain climbing, aerobatics, diving, etc. Being able to participate in an apparent first-person experience otherwise beyond one's abilities, financial and otherwise, is a miracle with absolutely unlimited potential. Use your imagination...

By definition, this isn't dystopian, it's just amazing.

We talking IMAX for consumers?

Individual consumers. Looking forward to seeing how software might make this a shared experience

I wear glasses so that’s me out…!

Not out, just more expensive for the prescription glasses attachment

Why do I want to look like a dork to do dorky things?

Personally I’m over peak technology. I’m in a phase deleting apps from my phone. Canceling social media accounts like twitter and Facebook etc. Finding peace by disconnecting and reverting to basics. A walk in the park with the dog and leaving my phone at home, just enjoying fresh air and birdsong

Five years ago I would have jumped on this. Not anymore.

Nice Dino, on the same boat!

I think this is the modern day Russian YUGO. Edsel comes to mind to

When I first saw the iPhone all those years ago, immediately I knew I wanted one. I had to wait a bit for it to become available in the UK. It was a solution that solved a number of problems in one device.

I don't have the same feeling with AVP, it seems to be a great solution looking for a problem.

Knowing Apple it will find the problem and then everyone will go "WOW, I never knew that problem existed".

I feel meh about AVP, but will see how it develops, you never know, I may have a problem of which I am completely unaware.

For $3500 bucks? No. If the price comes down significantly then sure. Maaaaybe. VR Still lacks quality software and practical applications for an average person. Right now this is just another rich persons toy.

It can totally see it achieving the "Next Gen" title or whatever. We just need minds and investment behind the stuff people will actually use to make their daily lives easier or more convenient.

When I got my first touchscreen handheld device back in the early 00s, I could immediately envision everyone having and using them - walking around, on the couch, lying in bed, at their desk, etc. I simply cannot, feasibility, see a future where everyone is wearing these ski goggles in the same way. Something like Google Glass, yes. Apple's latest offering, no.

The ski Goggles aren’t a good look for sure.
I think we’re all assuming that the eventual goal is something much smaller, something like Google Glass, but with Apple functionality, and a better battery life.

On the subject of touchscreens, there were a lot of people still asking for physical keyboards on phones after the iPhone cam out, and plenty of detractors saying that touchscreens “will never take off”.
I wonder if the Apple Vision Pro is the start of something new that will be the new iPhone, or if this will go the same way as 3D home televisions