On Friday I got to try Apple Vision Pro for the first time. For the rest of this post I will simply refer to it as the Vision Pro, because that is how I’ve been saying it with friends for months. I’ll be talking more about this in an upcoming podcast, but I wanted to capture a few notes for now.
First off, my experience was a bit clouded by what I suspect was the lack of a proper fitting.
I’ll be sharing the device with a colleague for work. We knew this was a risk, but few teams can justify the tremendous cost per user without knowing if this device will even work for what we need. As a result we ran into a logistical snag where I only had a few minutes to try it on and experience it. My colleague wears glasses, and the fit was customized for his face, so I’m guessing that may have been the genesis of my problems. During pre-order I ran the 3D scan and found we both had the same sizes of face shields and straps, so didn’t think we’d have an issue with fit. However, once the folks at Apple adjusted for his glasses they swaped out his face shield size. I’ve now debating whether I need to pick up a new face shield, but it’s too early to tell.
When I first put on the goggles (I don’t know the best one word description to call this yet) the entire screen was blurry. It took me a moment to realize I had to push the goggles up on my face. Even then a slight blurriness persisted for the entire experience. I adjusted the single loop band as tight as it would go, but it didn’t help much.
I hesitated to share this, wanting instead to start out with my excitement; but I think this is a crucial use case that is not being talked about. Most—in fact I’d venture 90%+—people will first experience the Vision Pro through a friend’s device. That’s how it works. You see someone has an iPhone and you ask to try it for a moment. Just yesterday I saw a friend using the Remarkable tablet. I asked if I could try it out to test the latency. I’ve been considering buying one for years, but never saw one in the wild. Now that I’ve tried it I know whether it will work for my use case.
That’s what’s going to happen with the Vision Pro. Someone will get one, and all their friends will try it. I’ve already had half a dozen friends ask if they can try the one I’ll be using.
So, coming back to my first experience. The device hurt, I almost threw up after wearing it for 20 minutes; and it was blurry. I’m almost certain this is due to an improper fit. But I suspect this will be the first experience of most people. When I told my wife about the experience—even leaving out most of the negative—her immediate response was that VR goggles make her nauseous, so she’s not interested.
This is a massive hurdle, and one that I’m nervous about personally. I’m feeling apprehension to trying the device a second time. My stomach turns even considering putting it on and feeling sick for an hour afterward. It feels like I did something wrong as a user, but I’d warrant this isn’t on me, it’s on the device to work well.
With that massive caveat out of the way let’s dive into my early impressions.
I suspect I’ll be a dual band user. The single loop band hurts too much. Strapping what’s effectively the weight of an iPad Pro to the front of my face is a lot. This thing is just too heavy.
Darkness and blurriness
I was surprised that I saw (or perceived) pixels in the experience. The entire room I was in felt darker than I expected and a little blurry. I don’t know if this is because of my poor setup, or how the device works itself. When I heard early reviews I expected everything to look like normal, but it looked like how my iPhone records a video of a room when the lighting is too low. You can see things, but it’s not as good as your eyes.
Throughout the experience apps kept appearing off in a corner, not centered. At one point I got tired of trying to understand why so I just shifted my whole body to look at an app. I learned later how to move apps around, but having them pop up off center is odd.
I’m looking forward to watching movies on this thing. The massive screen taking up the room in front of me was amazing. Just a few minutes with Historic Planet and I’m hooked. It felt real, felt like I was in the space with the dinosaurs; and it even felt a little scary. This is the best 3D experience I’ve ever had, and I want more.
Moving apps around, opening things up, looking, tapping my fingers together, this all worked better than I expected. In a matter of seconds I was doing these things without really thinking. The interaction felt like a solid version 1. With that said, the eye focus wasn’t as perfect as I was hoping. I sometimes was unsure if I was looking at the right area; again this could be due to the improper setup. But I’ll also add that having the perfect setup is a concern. You don’t have to worry about this with an iPad; you just had it to a friend and let them start taping. If the form factor is so finicky it may struggle to become useful to most people.
I had a moment of pure joy when I opened Freeform and started drawing with my hands. It was, of course, a bit gimmicky; I’m not going to spend hours moving my hands around in the air. But it has so much possibility as this is an app I use every day for work.
Navgating the web was a bit slow, but extremely doable. I went to my blog and read a post. Things were a little blurry, but again I was unsure of the root cause.
Two final initial observations.
First, slight apprehensive nausea aside, I’m incredibly excited to use this device. I want to make sure I get a proper fit and then start using it for work, watching movies, really just tinkering. Then, that will hopefully lead into designing some apps for this experience.
Second, I felt a little bit blue after taking the goggles off. The world felt a bit dim, a bit normal; it took a while for me to re-adjust. Granted, it was close to sunset in the Winter in the Pacific Northwest; always a bit dismal, but I’m worried that I didn’t want to leave the experience.