OMC's Blog

Impressions of the Vision Pro from a Software Engineer's Perspective

March 16, 2024

You're thinking the Vision Pro is revolutionary, like the iPhone was. But you're wrong. At least not right away. This isn't a device for everyone. They're targeting professionals.

Wearing the Vision Pro feels like stepping into the future, but with one foot still firmly planted in the present. The sleek, curved visor wraps around your eyes, immersing you in a digital wonderland. But the heft of the device and the tether to an external battery pack remind you that this is still a first-generation product, with all the limitations that entails.

From the initial setup to using your gaze as a mouse, everything is instinctive. Grabbing and sliding windows feels as natural as rearranging papers on a real desk. Apple's knack for intuitive interfaces shines through. A 10-year-old could pick this up and start playing with virtual dinosaurs. A 60-year-old could don the headset and start sorting through their photo memories, all with minimal instruction.

The resolution is mind-blowing. Text is razor-sharp. Photos and videos pop with vibrant color and detail. It's like staring at the world's best smartphone screen, except it's wrapped around your entire field of view. The 23 million pixels crammed into the dual Micro-OLED displays make even 4K TVs seem primitive by comparison.

But there's a catch. Passthrough - seeing the real world through the VR device - is better than the competition, but I'm not a fan. Viewing the world we see so vividly with our own eyes at a mere 720p resolution is like a downgrade. Sure, it gets the job done, but where's the magic? I guess this feature is there to prevent motion sickness. My biggest problem with the Meta Quest was the nausea. The Vision Pro feels much more open by comparison. But when you put it on, it still feels like you're submerged in a digital fishbowl. When you take it off, it's an upgrade back to reality.

Walking around outside with this is pointless. The image wobbles when the device shifts up and down, your world sways, and it puts uneven pressure on your face. It's designed for home/work use, not for outdoors.

The device is a nice addition to the Apple ecosystem. Text copied from your iPhone or MacBook transfers directly to the device. Connecting your MacBook to the Vision Pro is fantastic. After connecting, you can use the Magic Keyboard and Trackpad as a pointer, controlling the headset with the trackpad. If you have a Windows computer, I don't think you need to buy this. Although it seems like a standalone device like the iPhone, it reaches its full potential with a MacBook.

The built-in speakers and spatial audio are amazing. After acquiring Beats, Apple showed how well they do this with the AirPods they produced. It doesn't disappoint here either. For example, if you put a window on the right, the sound comes from the right. It's like the sound source is physically there. When you look directly at the window playing music, the sound comes straight from the front.

Watching environments and 3D movies in the Disney+ app is a lot of fun. I think it offers the best cinema experience in the world. Last summer I went to see Barbie at theater and we left the theater without being able to see the pink color and it wasn't good.

Did I mention the resolution is unbelievable? Text is so crisp, it's like reading ink on paper. I can spend hours coding or writing in this thing without any more eyestrain than I'd get from my regular monitors. In fact, I'd argue it's easier on the eyes, since you can position windows wherever is most comfortable for your posture and gaze.

Working inside the Vision Pro is a revelation. I can surround myself with an infinite array of screens, all hovering in space, ready to be called upon with a glance or a gesture. I can collaborate with colleagues as if we're in the same room, huddled around a virtual whiteboard, tossing ideas back and forth. The shared spatial anchors make it feel like we're manipulating the same objects, even though we may be miles apart.

But the device is very heavy, the external battery doesn't allow for walking or physical activity. After an hour or so, the weight starts to bear down on your forehead and cheeks, leaving angry red marks. And forget about wearing this thing on a hike or a jog - the headset bounces around and the battery pack thumps awkwardly against your hip. There is a lack of controllers. Apple has created this device for stationary experiences and it works well in this area.

Traveling on a plane is incredible. It's like flying with an IMAX theater next to you. When you pair this device with AirPods, you have a portable cinema.

So is the Vision Pro a groundbreaking spatial computer that will redefine personal computing? Or an expensive toy that isn't quite ready for primetime? The answer, I think, is a bit of both.

There's no question that Apple has delivered a technical marvel, a device that pushes the boundaries of what's possible with current display, sensor, and computing technology. The visual fidelity, the intuitive controls, the seamless integration with the Apple ecosystem - it all adds up to an experience that feels like a tantalizing glimpse of the future.

But it's also clear that this is a first step, not a final destination. The bulk, the battery life, the price - these are all significant barriers that will limit the Vision Pro's appeal and adoption, at least in the short term. It's a device for early adopters, for professionals and creatives who can justify the cost and tolerate the limitations in pursuit of the unique capabilities and experiences it offers.

In that sense, it reminds me of the original iPhone. Revolutionary in its vision, groundbreaking in its execution, but not yet the polished, mainstream product it would eventually become. The iPhone started as a niche device for gadget lovers and status seekers, but it evolved into a ubiquitous tool that transformed entire industries and reshaped modern life.

Will the Vision Pro follow a similar path? Will it catalyze a new era of spatial computing, where digital content is liberated from flat screens and integrated seamlessly into our physical environments? Where face-to-face interaction is enhanced rather than replaced by technology? Where the boundaries between real and virtual become increasingly blurred?

Only time will tell. But one thing is certain: Apple has fired a shot across the bow of the tech industry, signaling its intent to lead the charge into the next frontier of computing. The Vision Pro may not be the device that brings spatial computing to the masses, but it's a harbinger of what's to come. And for that reason alone, it demands attention and respect, even from those of us who aren't ready to take the $3,500 plunge.

So if you'll excuse me, I have some virtual windows to arrange and some augmented dinosaurs to observe. The future is calling, and I don't want to miss my appointment.

Oguzhan Murat Cakmak, starting his software career in Istanbul and advancing through roles in San Francisco at Uber and Hims&Hers, now does remote work from Kaş, Antalya, balancing his passion for technology with interests in kitesurfing, diving, hiking, and exploring diverse content on podcasts. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram


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