Apple Vision Pro, first impressions

With a personalized demo of about 30 minutes, several journalists present at Apple Park had the opportunity to try out the new Apple Vision Pro viewer.

apple vision pro first impressions

Everyone agrees that this viewer potentially offers many more options than the competition and that, in terms of hardware and software, it is years ahead of other viewers. This does not mean that it is a perfect product, but for many it can really open up a new sector in computing, considering that Apple itself has never defined it as a “viewer”, but as a “Spatial computer”.

These are the words of Techcrunch:

The hardware is good, very good, with 24 million pixels across the two panels, orders of magnitude higher than most consumers have come into contact with. The optics are better, the headband is comfortable and quick to adjust, and there’s a top strap for weight relief. Apple says it’s still working on which soft closure options (the fabric part) to ship with the headset when it’s officially released, but the default one was comfortable for me. They aim to ship them with different sizes and shapes to fit different faces. The power connector is also a great little design, interconnecting using internal pin-type power connections with an external twist lock.

There is also a magnetic solution for some (but not all) of the optical adjustments that people with different vision needs may need. The onboarding experience features an automatic eye relief calibration that matches the lenses to the center of your eyes. There are no manual wheels that regulate it here.

The main bezel and glass piece look fine, although it’s worth mentioning that they are a very substantial size. Not heavy, per se, but not light either.

We then go into more detail:

If you’re experienced with VR, then you know that the two big barriers most people encounter are nausea caused by latency or the isolation that long sessions wearing something over their eyes can provide.

Apple has mitigated both admirably. The R1 chip sitting next to the M2 chip has a system-wide polling rate of 12ms, and I didn’t notice any judder or framedrops. There was a slight motion blur effect used in the passthrough mode, but it wasn’t distracting. The windows themselves are crisp and move snappily.

Of course, Apple was able to mitigate these problems thanks to all-new and original hardware. Everywhere you look inside the headset is a new idea, a new technology or a new implementation. All this has a price: $3,500 is in the very high range and places the device in the category of devices for super-pro users, at least for this first model.

Ecco what Apple got right that other headsets have failed to do right:

Eye tracking and gesture control are near perfect. Hand gestures are detected anywhere around the headset. Also in your lap or down and away while propped up in a chair or sofa. Many other hand tracking interfaces force you to keep your hands raised in front of you which is tiring. Apple has dedicated high-resolution cameras on the bottom of the device just to keep track of your hands. Similarly, an eye tracking array inside means that, after calibration, almost everything you look at is precisely highlighted. A simple low-effort swipe of the fingers and boom, it works.

Passthrough is an important key. Having a real-time 4K view of the world around you including any human in your personal space is important for using VR or AR for long sessions. There’s a deep-seated thing about the brain in most humans that makes us really, really uncomfortable if we can’t see our surroundings for an extended period of time. Eliminating that concern by going through an image should improve the possibility of long usage times. There’s also a clever ‘turn’ mechanism that automatically shows a person approaching you while you’re watching your content, alerting you that someone is approaching you. The eyes on the outside, which change in appearance depending on what you’re doing, also provide a nice hint of context for those outside.

As for practical uses:

Such a high resolution means that the text is actually legible. Apple’s positioning of this product as a full computing device only makes sense if you can actually read the text inside it. All previous iterations of “virtual desktop” setups have relied on panels and lenses that have vision too blurry to reliably read text. In many cases it is literally painful to do this. Not with Apple Vision Pro: text is super sharp and readable at all sizes and at far “distances” within your space.

There were also a handful of truly surprising moments from my brief time with the headset. Aside from the sharpness of the display and the snappy responsiveness of the interface, the entire suite of content oozed attention to detail.

Custom avatar:

I was HIGHLY dubious that Apple could make a working digital avatar based on just a scan of your face using the same Vision Pro headset. The avatar is really well done. It’s not quite perfect, but it offers just the right skin tightening and muscle work, the expressions it makes you make are used to interpolate a full range of facial contortions using machine learning models, and the brief interactions I’ve had with a person since alive on a call (and it was live, i checked asking for off-script stuff) it didn’t feel creepy or weird. It worked.

I film:

3D movies are really good. Jim Cameron probably had a moment where he saw Avatar: Way of Water on Apple Vision Pro. This thing is absolutely born to resurrect the 3D format and can show these movies pretty much right out of the box, so there’s going to be a decent library of movies shot in 3D that will make Apple users happy. The photos and 3D videos you can take directly with the Apple Vision Pro also look great, but I haven’t been able to test capture anyone, so I don’t know yet how it will feel.

Setup is smooth and simple. A couple of minutes and you’re good to go. Very Apple.

Overall, Apple Vision Pro really can open the doors of space computing. Pending extended tests, the premises are more than good. How will the public react?


Source: iPhone Italia by

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