Apple has sent out the first developer kits. A journalist got his hands on one and published his impressions.
All previous Vision Pro hands-ons took place under tightly controlled conditions during WWDC 2023. Attending journalists were able to test the device for half an hour and were guided through various aspects of the headset by Apple employees without actually being able to explore it for them self.
AppleInsiders Mike Wuerthele got to try Vision Pro for two hours firsthand, thanks to a developer and fan of the site who received a developer kit. The developer broke an NDA by sharing it, and the consequences are unknown (Wuerthele describes the application developed for Vision Pro in detail).
I will summarize some of the impressions from the rather detailed hands-on. It should be noted in advance that Vision Pro will not be released until early 2024, so Apple still has plenty of time to optimize the software.
Easy setup and no eye strain afterwards
Wuerthele has extensive experience with different headsets and can compare Vision Pro with existing products.
Setting up the device is easy, he writes, mainly using the iPhone and the like to set up Face ID for the first time. In a separate step, the iPhone’s TrueDepth camera scans the ears for optimal spatial sound.
The field of view is similar to other headsets on the market, according to Wuerthele. Passthrough delivers sharp and clear images most of the time, but can be affected by sudden changes in lighting conditions, although it adapts quickly. Wuerthele didn’t notice any eye strain during his hour and a half of using the headset, which surprised him.
Wuerthele was unable to test the EyeSight feature, which displays the user’s eyes on the external display. Apparently, Apple is still working on this feature.
Vision Pro: Not optimal for all types of app
Apple’s web browser, Safari, works, at least if the site follows all web standards. Some narrow fonts are hard to read, and there are also web designs that don’t work well in the headset or make navigation impossible. The virtual keyboard takes some time to get used to and, according to Wuerthele, you shouldn’t expect to type as quickly as on an iPad or MacBook Pro
What about other apps? Productivity apps work, but the user experience is better on other devices, writes Wuerthele. For example, PDFs are easier to read on an iPad than on Vision Pro and a floating window. Games are still rough, in part because touch actions aren’t always captured. Vision Pro emulates iPad apps, but in order for them to work perfectly on Vision Pro, they must be optimized for the device, writes Wuerthele.
Battery life is currently very limited
The sound coming from the small built-in speakers is clear and crisp and loud enough for media consumption, according to Wuerthele. The open design ensures that users are not isolated from their surroundings.
The external battery pack is relatively unobtrusive in your pocket or on a table. However, the battery life is still a bit limited, with the Wuerthele getting just over an hour of use without external charging. He expects this to improve radically as the software evolves. Combined with the right charger, the battery pack supplies the headset with power and charges at the same time.
The headset weighs a hair over a pound, writes Wuerthele. The device is well balanced, but after 90 minutes of use a slight neck fatigue sets in. Wuerthele tried the Vision Pro without the optional top strap. The headset itself could get warm after an hour, but not uncomfortably so.
A “phenomenal piece of engineering”
Wuerthele expects Vision Pro to be adopted immediately by companies, while consumers will need more time and convincing.
A lot of work needs to be done with the operating system and the presentation, he writes. The headset is a “phenomenal piece of engineering”, but the software needs to go through many iterations to reach its full potential. Much like the iPhone. “And just like with the iPhone and iPad, Apple Vision Pro won’t be the best tool for everything and everyone”.
Ultimately, the developer community, not Apple, will decide what Vision Pro is best used for. That’s why it’s in the hands of that group so early.
Head over to AppleInsider to read Wuerthele’s full hands-on.
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