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  1. StratecheryBen Thompson6/6/2324 min
    7 reads4 comments
    9.3
    Stratechery
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    9.3
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    • justinzealand8 months ago

      Astute observation of Apple taking a personal approach vs Meta going social. Makes sense where both are starting on those ends of the spectrum, but I would love for a social format to win the market for forward innovation.

      I understand the technical hurdles, but it says a lot about the hurdles of AR if the best way to get their is with digital renderings via cameras that require a ski google look. I was hoping for a more Google Glass form factor. Everyone’s on their phones all the time, but I don’t see ever wearing something like this at work or in public. Major disadvantage from usability standpoint

    • thorgalle
      Top reader this weekReading streakScoutScribe
      8 months ago

      I’m leaning towards the optimistic side on this. Just like the smartphone, it’s tech that we’ll have to learn to use wisely, not an easy task. But it’s also exciting. Achieving high fidelity in AR/VR together with improving graphics capabilities in mobile chips opens up new possibilities.

      Today, I personally think games are the most interesting application. I recently bought a 2nd hand PS4 Pro to play some AAA games released in the last ~5 years. I find Red Dead Redemption 2 (played some hours now) really impressive in terms of its realism, it’s dropping you in another world unlike anything else I’ve seen. And that happens with a mainstream game console today.

      If this fidelity could be surpassed in a standalone VR/AR headset in another 5-8 years, with a price tag < $ 1000, then I’d definitely be interested in getting one. I tried existing VR sets several times at experience centers and I generally enjoyed those experiences, but I didn’t see them becoming a mainstay because of the high cost, low quality and inconvenient operation. Apple seems to have made a promising leap in terms of everything except cost.

    • jeff8 months ago

      Great write-up! This starts out as a fawning review of the technology which is definitely super impressive but Thompson gets real at the end about some of the drawbacks.

      I’ll be honest: what this looked like to me was a divorced dad, alone at home with his Vision Pro, perhaps because his wife was irritated at the extent to which he got lost in his own virtual experience.

      That part stuck out to me too in a negative way. I'm surprised Apple kept it in the presentation. The only use case I found interesting was using the headset to watch a movie or get work done on a flight which seems way too niche for the price tag.

      Everything else to me seemed like a step back. FaceTime is worse for everyone you're talking to because they can't see your actual face. Getting work done on a computer requires ergonomic input devices and I couldn't imagine not being able to look out a window every now and then to give my eyes a break from the screens. Am I really going to want to strap this thing to my face just to swipe through some pictures or browse the web?

      The court-side sports experience sounded interesting at first but is that really better than sitting on a couch watching the game with your friends? The whole thing just seems so isolating and unnecessary and I don't think Meta's cartoon Facebook alternative is any better. Even though we're growing more isolated as a society I don't think these devices will ever take off and may (hopefully) instead become a turning point where we realize the value of real human connection instead.

      • thorgalle
        Top reader this weekReading streakScoutScribe
        8 months ago

        Good reaction, too! Always fun when I follow a link from elsewhere, read, and notice the article was already posted :)

        I watched the 26 minute (or so) Verge summary of the conference. I also revolted at seeing the dad film his daughters like an alien creep. Then again: we’d find it normal now if the same dad was holding a bulky reflex camera against his face instead. How did early 20th century humans react to the first mass-produced handheld cameras? The headset looks uniquely creepy now, but maybe we’ll get over that in a decade.

        Regarding the utility for work, you’re probably right that most productive activity will still require a keyboard/mouse & desk. But if the visual experience is as good as quoted, and if they become lighter, it might be a viable alternative to having several monitors. I’m very much reminded of a YT video “I Used Virtual Monitors For a Week”, where the reviewer concluded (past min. 7:30) that the weight and AR passthrough were not dealbreaker for work, it was mostly the latency between paired computer input and visual response that made it uncomfortable. It seems Apple solved that, and more.

        Like you, my current reservations would mostly be socially: I started going to a co-working space exactly because I did not want be stuck alone in the same room all day. Vision Pro still mostly looks like that room, though I’d want to withhold full judgment until I’ve tried version 4 in 2028 in an environment where it has become more normal. Apple’s HD passthrough & exterior screen already look promising, if still weird, and I now also take off my headphones to have a chat with my neighbor every now & then. Why not do that with a full headset?