The much-anticipated Apple Vision Pro became available in the United States on 2 February 2024. It is the first new major product category from Apple since the release of the first-generation Apple Watch in 2015. This mixed reality headset combines the features and capabilities of virtual reality and augmented reality but it is marketed as a spatial computer. Nonetheless, with an impressive and overwhelming range of technologies, this product has become one of the most talked-about consumer electronic devices in 2023 and one of the most divisive products of 2024. This article reviews the pros and cons of Apple Vision Pro.
Pros of Apple Vision Pro: Defining Features and Capabilities
There is no doubt that the Apple Vision Pro is impressive. It packs a lot of technologies. Some are borrowed from existing technologies while others are newer and never-before-commercialized technologies. This device competes with other mainstream VR headsets such as the Meta Quest 3 from Meta Platforms and PlayStation VR2 from Sony. However, compared to its competitors, it is a complete standout and it takes advantage of the established product ecosystem of Apple. The following are its defining features, capabilities, and advantages:
1. Powerful and Capable M2 and R1 Silicon
At the heart of this device is the Apple M2 system-on-a-chip and a new dedicated coprocessor called the Apple R1 chip. The M2 provides the standard CPU and GPU capabilities, as well as the capabilities and features from the Neural Engine and the Unified Memory Architecture. The R1 is focused on handling the data obtained from the various sensors of the device. These two Apple chips allow the Apple Vision Pro to deliver a smooth overall performance.
2. Hands-Free UI Operations and Navigations
One of the notable advantages of the Apple Vision Pro over other AR and VR headsets is that it does come with separate controllers. This device is packed with a lot of sensors. Some of these sensors are placed to track hand and eye movements. Hence, when it comes to navigating through the user interface and operating the entire device, a user depends on specific hand gestures and eye movements. This makes the device a true hands-free mixed reality headset.
3. Impressive Display and Passthrough Latency
This device is equipped with an ultra-high resolution display system composed of two micro-OLED displays. The combined pixel count across the system is 23 million. There is also an external display called EyeSight that shows the eyes of the headset wearer to the people. Nevertheless, when it comes to digital passthrough, this device features an impressive 12-millisecond photon-to-photon latency for real-time projection of video feed on the display system.
4. Growing Apps and Seamless Apple Integration
The visionOS is a fork of iOS. Hence, by default, it supports most apps that are available on iPhones and iPads. These include mainstay Apple apps and third-party apps such as Zoom and Chrome. There are also apps and games that take advantage of mixed reality features. The entire user interface is similar to iPadOS but the visionOS allows users to open free-floating app windows. This device also integrates well with other Apple products such as Mac devices.
Cons of Apple Vision Pro: Significant Issues and Limitations
An Apple Vision Pro review would not be complete without weighing down its disadvantages or cons. This device is far from perfect. Of course, considering that it is a first-generation product, and in addition to the fact that it needs some improvements from the software side, these drawbacks are understandable. What is perplexing about this device is its weight. Both in terms of its physical dimensions and its price. It still feels like a pointless consumer electronic device for average and even above-average users. Below are its issues and limitations:
1. Bulky Appearance and Substantial Weightiness
Most extended reality headsets lean toward the bulkier and more cumbersome side. The Apple Vision Pro is no exception. There is a little headroom for design. Apple needs to pack a lot of technologies inside the device. Both its size and weight were even reduced through a cable-connected external battery pack instead of an integrated battery. The device is still large. It can be awkward to use around in the public. Its weight can add significant strain after an extended use.
2. Limited Practical and Next-Gen Applications
The app library is decent for a first-generation product. However, because visionOS is derived from the core iOS framework, the actual practical applications are limited. The user interface and user experience might be both straightforward and revolutionary but this device lacks the sophistication of an actual desktop personal computer. The software programs on Windows and macOS are still unmatched by apps available on mobile operating systems.
3. Software Bugs and Overall Technological Hiccups
It is stunning when it works but disappointing when not. The number of optimized apps for the operating system is still limited. Even some of the mainstay Apple apps do not take advantage of the full capabilities of this device. Both hand and eye tracking can be inconsistent and frustrating. The passthrough latency is impressive but the real-time video feed is still not as clear and as real as real-world visual perception. This device also does not work over glasses.
4. Expensive and Excessive Consumer Electronic
The concept of spatial computing might not be new but its successful commercialization is still several years away from maturity. AR and VR or MR devices are still not substitutes for other consumer electronic devices. This is the main problem with the Apple Vision Pro. This device retails for USD 3499.00. This is equivalent to a brand-new iPhone and a MacBook Air. There is no solid reason to purchase and use this device outside technological enthusiasm.
Verdict: Advantages and Disadvantages of Apple Vision Pro
It cannot be denied that the Apple Vision Pro is the best mixed reality headset out there. It represents a substantial leap in AR and VR or MR technologies. The overall user interface is best described as a wearable iPad with an added oomph. The strength of this device lies in its array of sensors that work together to demonstrate what spatial computing can do and create what a mixed reality environment and experience should be.
However, as a first-generation product, it is obvious that it is still far from perfect. It feels experimental at times because of its awkward look and feel, in addition to its bugs and interfaces. This is daunting for a USD 3499.00 device. It is important to note that this is still not the vision for future headsets. Both researchers and companies are still working toward something that looks more like a normal pair of eyeglasses.