I was bracing for the critical response and early reviews to the Vision Pro to be dire; a joke, a waste of a time. But the sentiment is actually far more positive than I expected. Amidst the ungainly ergonomics of the first-generation hardware, and the window management omissions of a first-generation operating system, people have found glimpses of greatness. More so for entertainment, but productivity use cases too.
Those touting daily usage will inevitably taper off, and I’m sure many will stop remembering to charge it altogether in about two months’ time. There’s just not enough you can do with it right now, with a dearth of worthwhile content to consume and slim pickings of high-quality apps to use. A portion of enthusiastic buyers will end up returning it as they confront the physical realities of something so heavy and bulbous sitting on your face. But if you squint enough, you can almost see the future. The day one Vision Pro experience already feels more capable than an iPad in many respects, and it’s a great plane computer. Those niches and bubbles of utility will only grow larger over time.
Apple doesn’t enter a new product category too often. With the iPhone, iPad and Watch, Apple was coming out swinging from the start with a product concept that was ready to draw huge mass market attention. The Vision Pro is obviously not going to do that, nor does Apple expect it to. The market dynamics of AR/VR have basically forced Apple’s hand into launching a bit earlier in the hardware development curve than usual. More than anything the company has released before, the Vision Pro bumps against the limits of the state of the art in so many ways.
The first iPhone does not look that different from the iPhone we know today; the bezels disappeared, the cameras got bigger, but it’s still unmistakably of the same family as the device Jobs pulled out of his pocket in January 2007. Same with the iPad, and the Watch. However, I expect that the Vision Pro’s tenth incarnation will be vastly different from what we have today. There’s just so much room for everything to get better, and for key tentpoles of the design to shift based on what becomes technically possible in the future.