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 really being able to explore it for themselves.
AppleInsider’s Mike Wuerthele got to try out Vision Pro for two hours on his own, thanks to a developer and fan of the website 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 after
Wuerthele has a lot of experience with different headsets and can compare Vision Pro to existing products.
Setting up the device is easy, he writes, mainly using the iPhone and similar to setting up Face ID for the first time. In a separate step, the iPhone’s TrueDepth camera scans the ears for optimal spatial audio.
The field of view is similar to other headsets on the market, according to Wuerthele. Passthrough delivers crisp and clear images most of the time, but can be affected by sudden changes in lighting conditions, although it adjusts quickly. Wuerthele didn’t notice any eye strain during his hour and a half of using the headset, which surprised him.
Wuerthele could not test the EyeSight feature, which shows the user’s eyes on the external display. Apparently, Apple is still working on this feature.
Vision Pro: Not optimal for every type of app
Apple’s web browser, Safari, works, at least if the site follows all web standards. Some narrow type styles are hard to read, and there are also web designs that do not work well in the headset or make navigation impossible. The virtual keyboard takes some time getting used to, and you should not expect to type as fast as on an iPad or MacBook Pro, according to Wuerthele
What about other apps? Productivity apps work, but the user experience is better on other devices, Wuerthele writes. PDFs, for example, 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 being captured. Vision Pro emulates iPad apps, but for them to work perfectly on Vision Pro, they would need to be optimized for the device, writes Wuerthele.
Battery life is currently very limited
Audio coming from the small built-in speakers is clear and crisp, and sufficiently loud 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 the pocket or on a table. However, battery life is still a little limited, with Wuerthele getting a bit over an hour of use without external charge. He expects this to radically improve as the software evolves. Combined with the right charger, the battery pack supplies the headset with power and is charged at the same time.
The headset weighs a hair over a pound, Wuerthele writes. The device is well-balanced, but after 90 minutes of use, some light neck fatigue sets in. Wuerthele tried Vision Pro without the optional top strap. The headset itself could get warm after an hour, but not uncomfortable.
A “phenomenal piece of engineering”
Wuerthele expects Vision Pro to be adopted immediately by enterprises, while consumers will need more time and convincing.
A lot of work needs to be done on the operating system and 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 like with the iPhone and iPad, Apple Vision Pro won’t be the best tool for everything, and everybody”.
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.