I am very happy.
For many years I’ve wanted a computing experience that resembles precisely what Apple announced at WWDC just a few short weeks ago. In 2019 I wrote “I want any size screen, any time, any where.” As poorly written as that sentence may be, I think Apple is attempting to deliver just that.
In late-May, just before WWDC, I jotted down what I’d be looking for in an Apple headset. I mentioned that I would strongly prefer an AR experience over a VR one (Apple Vision Pro provides both and the user can choose to what degree), that I wanted the OS to be centered on productivity rather than gaming (it is), and that my hope would be that the platform would be as productive as using an iPad within a few years (and I think it will be).
I didn’t expect Apple to deliver my vision for an AR computing experience so clearly. But if Apple Vision Pro ships in early 2024 as advertised we will be living in a world of my dreams.
I also wanted to jot down some of my thoughts after having seen the presentation, read the webpage, listened to many experiences people have had with the device, and looked at the now the recently released SDK.
The good: Apple Vision Pro will likely ship with tens of thousands of native applications, and hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of compatible apps and games. This is a key differentiator that hasn’t been mentioned enough. Most of the apps (such as email, browsers, etc.) on competing platforms aren’t very good and have to be built from scratch. Apple is going to blow all other competitors out of the water on the app front. There will be productivity and creativity apps, games, utilities, and much more. No other current headset may ever be able to catch up.
The bad: In my view, the 2-hour battery life is easily the worst thing about Apple Vision Pro. I have to imagine that Apple are attacking this issue as much as any other internally. My bet is that prior to shipping they will be able to say that version 1.0 of Apple Vision Pro will last a bit longer on a single charge than they’ve been willing to say so far. But this will have to get to “all day battery life” within a few versions. Even if that means shipping a much larger battery.
There are two freeze frames I’d like to share from Apple’s videos of the Apple Vision Pro in use that have me the most excited.
Productivity apps on visionOS
I think visionOS is going to change a fair amount over the next several years. The above screengrab, from about 1hr 30mins into the WWDC Keynote, shows how apps will look in version 1.0. Not apps on a screen but screen-size apps. I like this, in theory, but I’m eager to see if visionOS will mature to allow for much higher information density than Apple has been demoing. It isn’t that I want to have one hundred windows open all over the room, but I would like visionOS to allow me to do more than I can do on a good sized 4K display, not less. I don’t really need a poster-size version of my Messages app.
A large screen in a small room
This second one is so cool – it shows you truly can have any size screen whenever you want. It shows that someone watching a movie in a small apartment is no longer limited to the dimensions of their largest wall. The same could be done for photo editing on a plane, video editing at a park, or writing email in sunny conditions on a backyard patio.
I see so much potential for this platform. Far more than any other MR headset we’ve seen from any other company. During John Gruber’s The Talk Show Live at WWDC, Mike Rockwell quipped that Apple wasn’t interested in making a toy. I think it is clear that instead they are trying to make something essential. I think they are on the right path and I hope it succeeds.