A naive, short-sighted, first impression of the hot new Apple device.
Nilay Patel’s review: I get his skepticism, this is not as good as a phone, an ipad, but is the best of class in it’s category, but yeah, what’s going to make this sing? Great points about Apple Marketing presuming a little more about their future domination.
I think Nilay’s complaints about hand tracking are especially good. Comparing a Quest 2 controller to the Apple Vision Pro’s look and pinch mechanism the failures of my eyes are so more evident than a bad click on a controller. I have pretty good “trigger discipline” with the Quest 2 controller, and even though the laser pointer interface shows how shaky my 42 year hands can be, I don’t have to be looking directly at the thing I want to click. The Vision Pro feels like it’s “training” me to act with horse blinders. It wants me to look at the thing I want to press, and if I stray even for a moment … chaos ensues.
As soon as I connected to a Mac, Universal Control made me so much more confident of pointer control. I could both mostly touch-type where needed, and point without holding my gaze in a staring contest on a button that I can’t tell if it’s being highlighted or is too close to a neighbor button. I immediately resent the small AR keyboard. Especially for not consistently presenting a “return” key when the “send” button on compatible iPad apps are too inconspicuous to hit consistently.
The AVP Reddit Discord seemed excited/concerned that their young community could reconvene in the iPad app in AR, but honestly unless that’s via Persona/voice chat, I had zero desire to participate in text chat while on the couch next to my wife watching YouTube on the living room TV. For that, I’d expect to rely on dictation.
Even then, the number of overlay and pop-up interfaces is a little annoying. VisionOS leverages little from Apple’s other OSs, the bar under every AR window is not for swiping up to return to the app screen, it’s for repositioning the window in space. The window size controls only appear when you look at the corner (and so make it feel slow for them to be selected, and frustrating when unwanted and trying to “pinch” a poorly placed corner button), and the window close button appears underneath the window, and doesn’t actually close the app or window as masOS does, but more like iOS for placing the app in the background, still running. What’s especially odd is that multitasking is just assumed, place items left and right or above. And to actually quit an app requires a literal “Force quit” window popup that resembles the familiar macOS keyboard shortcut.
Trying to watch YouTube in Safari telegraphed potential problems I’m going to have to adjust to. Just as Nilay points out, if you absentmindedly touch your thumb and index finger while watching a video (or the headset perceives you as doing so) then your video pauses, scans the timeline unintentionally, chaos. Other times, I realized I was pinching in the plane of the camera and my thumb, and so the headset could see “my hand” but couldn’t see “fingers pinching”. I then have to adjust my ergonomics to try again, and if anything is clear about human-computer interfaces, it’s that one or more failures to input often come at increased strain on following attempts. Despite Apple inserting no controller, plastic or metal button, or any other material in my hand, I was getting an RSI on the pad of my finger and thumb from pinching my own flesh and bone.
On the MacBook Air, I was developing similar finger-pad pain points when attempting long-distance drag maneuvers (which I do often being a hobby of using vector illustration art programs). I eventually found the option to enable “three finger drag”, which has become a staple for my use (and mild annoyance that the iPad Pro trackpad support does not have).
For a movie experience, I hope some feature can surface for disabling or desensitizing pinch detection so I can just enjoy a movie without my hand feeling like it’s been super-glued to all the remote controls in my living room.
The lack of a native YouTube app is frustrating, in that the web version is too finicky and won’t dismiss it’s full screen UI if you accidentally pause and then resume and the third party “Juno” app from former Reddit API app “Apollo” developer released, feels like a dedicated electron window onto the webpage.
Funny, after adding the “web app” wrapper to macOS and having a similar iOS since before the App Store, the Vision Pro seems to lack the option to save a webpage as some app-adjacent sandbox.
Even after enabling Safari’s WebXR “advanced” feature flags, stereoscopic web video playback eludes me.
The MLB app is my only predicted sports viewing experience, and sadly, cannot be attached to the ceiling for laid-back viewing, because it’s immersive home plate and strike zone is all mounted in VR to the floor, and the player and stats board is stuck on a theoretical wall. Honestly, I’d want to background a game for the majority of it, and being unable to multitask with it is kinda a drag.
The Perfect Sports App won’t have commentary or multi-cam coverage or fancy 3D visuals, it’ll just be a 360 VR view from one or a few seats in the venue. If you want to listen to commentary, there should be a VR radio to pickup and tune to the desired team coverage you want.
Watching a 2D video screen in the headset, no matter how virtually massive, is just kind of dull.