Apple Vision Pro’s biggest problem is also its greatest selling point
All the news, rumors, and tips you missed last week.
By David Price, Editor, MacworldAUG 28, 2023 3:30 am PDT
Welcome to our weekly Apple Breakfast column, which includes all the Apple news you missed last week in a handy bite-sized roundup. We call it Apple Breakfast because we think it goes great with a Monday morning cup of coffee or tea, but it’s cool if you want to give it a read during lunch or dinner hours too.
The shock of the new
Journalism, we are told (probably not by George Orwell, but that’s another story) is printing what someone else doesn’t want published, while everything else counts as public relations. And under those terms, the journalistic purist would probably have declined to write about the Vision Pro developer labs that Apple was promoting fairly heavily last week. But I thought the program was quite interesting, and not entirely in the manner that Apple intended.
First, the basics. The Vision Pro developer labs are a program of training, consultation, and evangelism sessions laid on for the people who will write the software for the company’s upcoming mixed-reality headset. Developers who secure a place in the sessions get the chance to try out Vision Pro and pose questions to its designers, helping them to gain a more complete understanding of how their software will work in that environment. In Apple’s puff piece, big-name devs lined up to testify that the sessions advanced their plans for visionOS apps and gave them new enthusiasm for the project. Job done, it would appear.
But here’s the problem. If developers with proven commercial success and extensive experience in the industry need their hands held in order to grasp Vision Pro’s potential—to appreciate, for example, that a spatial computing interface is less limiting than a bordered screen—then what hope is there for the rest of us?
Next year will be a critical one for Apple, and Vision Pro is the keystone launch around which the company’s next decade will succeed or fail. The company is banking on virtual and augmented reality becoming the next big platform, but it faces the obstacle that most of its potential customers have had either bad experiences with these technologies (from trying out sweaty or low-res gaming headsets, perhaps, or from observing Google Glass owners in the wild), or more likely no experiences at all. It’s hard to sell an idea this new and this unproven, and unlike the smartphone and the smartwatch, there’s no precursor device that acts as a gentle on-ramp to the challenging concept of the mixed-reality headset. I’m a full-time Apple-focused tech writer, and I don’t feel like I understand what Vision Pro is going to offer, or how it’s going to change things. Where does that leave the average member of the public?
What Apple needs to do, of course, is get Vision Pro into people’s hands. A common theme of hands-on reviews (including ours) was initial skepticism followed by surprised enthusiasm, and the device is evidently its own best salesman. But Apple can’t afford to invite us all to demo sessions, which is why it’s trying to generate second-hand hype by posting articles about how much a bunch of software developers loved theirs.
And with that, we’re done for this week’s Apple Breakfast. If you’d like to get regular roundups, sign up for our newsletters. You can also follow us on Twitter, Threads, or on Facebook for discussion of breaking Apple news stories. See you next Monday, and stay Appley.