Zack Apiratitham

Thoughts on Apple Vision Pro

Over the past couple of weeks, there have already been enough takes on the Apple Vision Pro and the internet clearly does not need another one from somebody like me. Still, I just wanted to jot down some thoughts and observations from my personal experience—for my own records, if anything.

This was the first Apple product that I was there for on launch day and that was a really fun experience. You could tell the retail employees and everyone in line were super excited. I had an 8am pick-up appointment and was second in line. I opted to do the demo to see what that experience was like and to also make sure I had the right fit.

The very first thing I noticed and was honestly a bit disappointed by was that I could clearly see outside light leaking through the gap around my nose. Perhaps this is by design. Or perhaps it’s due to my Asian descent with my low nose bridge. I heard quite a few people complaining about discomfort on their nose as the weight of the headset presses down on it. I don’t have that issue at all and I can easily slide my thumb through that gap. I wish this little black nose cloth was a bit bigger, or customizable to fit people with different nose shapes and sizes.

The field of view leaves a lot of be desired. The simulated view from The Verge’s review is very accurate. Some say it’s like looking through ski goggles but I can see quite a bit more through my ski goggles. Maybe I need to get a different light seal that puts my eyes closer to the screens.

But that would make another issue worse. I use prescription inserts and my eyelashes would sometimes brush up against them. So after a few hours of use, there are some noticeable smudges that I’d need to take them off and clean them. I don’t think my eyelashes are longer than average. Maybe my eyes are already too close to the lenses. Or maybe I just have oily eyelashes.

I struggled a bit at first to do the initial calibration. I would look at a dot and as I did the pinching gesture I was already moving my gaze over to the next dot. And so it ended up not registering it or hitting the wrong one. This is also the case with other interactions inside visionOS. I needed to learn to not look away too quickly when I’m trying to interact with something.

This leads to quite a few accidental inputs and that can get really frustrating fast. But I think the eye tracking itself is not as accurate as I was expecting. Sometimes I really have to look hard or re-look at something for it to get highlighted. Sometimes it just doesn’t register where I look correctly and I have to look slightly outside of what I want to look at to interact with it. This is especially frustrating when using iPad apps where elements are much closer to each other, and some apps are downright unusable. For example with Discord, none of the interactive elements has a hover state so I just have to look, pinch, and hope that I looked hard enough at the element I wanted to select.

The pinching gesture itself feels very intuitive, though I sometimes find myself having to exaggerate the pinch gesture a bit for it to be recognized. One realization I had about using the Vision Pro that is not true for other electronic devices is that I can use it while snacking and my hands are dirty. It’s quite a freeing experience, really.

The passthrough view is decent. It’s good enough that I frequently just walk around the house and do things like normal. But it’s too fuzzy for me to be able to use my phone or read a book.

Speaking of using my phone, obviously Face ID doesn’t recognize my face while wearing the headset so I have to type in my passcode. But I don’t see why it can’t just unlock my phone while I’m currently authenticated on my Vision Pro, similar to Apple Watch unlock. Hopefully this is something that will be added in a future OS update.

Optic ID is really convenient and feels magical. Unlike Face ID, I literally don’t have to do anything while it’s authenticating my eyes. It just works every single time.

My Persona is quite uncanny and makes me a bit uncomfortable at first. The hair is just a solid blob. But I’m really impressed at how much it’s able to pick up on my facial expression. My eyes, eyebrows, nose, cheeks, lips and tongue movements all pretty much come through accurately. I do wish that they allow for multiple Personas though.

The windows in visionOS are quite a bit bigger in space than I was expecting. They do take up a lot of space in your field of view. Also moving them closer or further away doesn’t actually change how much field of view it takes up. It feels a bit like an optical illusion. I know it’s not what’s happening here but this does make me think of the dolly zoom effect.

Mac Virtual Display is a really useful feature. I know it’s not close to the Studio Display quality but my Mac screen looks perfectly sharp in visionOS and I could use it just fine. I was on a FaceTime call with a friend and they were sharing their screen and so I had two virtual Mac screens in my space at the same time that I can place wherever. I thought that was super cool.

Text input is just unusable and get really frustrating. I’m writing this entire post with the Vision Pro using Runestone with a connected Bluetooth keyboard. Even then, there’s always a little window that pops up in your view and doesn’t go away during text entry.

Watching movies should be done in an environment. In a regular app window the corners are way too rounded, cutting off too much of the content. These turn into appropriate right-angle corners in immersive mode. Plus, the “light” from the content interacts with the environment it’s in. You can see it reflected on the lake at Mount Hood, off of rocks on the moon, and on the snow at Yosemite. I was so blown away by this.

I can definitely feel some eye fatigue after using it for a few hours and have to force myself to take a break. Taking it off after a long session does feel quite relieving, not too dissimilar to when I take off my contacts after a long day.

It might sound like I’m unhappy with this device. It is extremely expensive. And I was actually on the fence whether I should return it but I ended up keeping it. It’s far from perfect but I’m really excited about its prospect and to see where this goes next.

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Hey, I’m Zack. Thanks for reading!

I'm a software developer originally from Krabi, Thailand currently living and working in the suburbs of Boulder, Colorado, USA. This blog is a place for me write about my interests and things I find worth sharing.

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