The Apple Vision Pro now exists.

The iPod was a better MP3 player. The iPad was a better tablet. The Apple Watch was a better watch. The Vision Pro is a better... what, exactly?

It is clearly a technological achievement. It is clearly interesting. It also clearly makes you look like a dork, first when you plonk down $3499 (before obligatory prescription inserts for the majority of the population which requires correction), then when you use it. They did what they could, but it still looks pretty terrible.

The first iPhone had no third-party apps (until the jailbreaking community stepped in and developed an SDK within months), no copy and paste, no GPS, no MMS, no front-facing camera, no good backside camera, and so on. There were phones you could buy with some of those features. It was ahead in software quality and interaction and behind in the details. People bought into it because it was a breath of fresh air and the rest would be filled in over time.

The Apple Vision Pro is possibly, battling the Purple project for the original iPhone or the extended meta-Multi-Touch project that spanned both iPhone and iPad, the largest development project in the company's history (to have spawned a product; hi Titan). It produced a product that is simultaneously not comparatively embarrassing (it stacks up reasonably well against untethered VR headsets), will still clearly get much better within a few years when both hardware is able to deliver more and software grows to be more capable, and lives in a category no one is (currently) interested in.

The success of Apple Vision Pro depends on Apple's ability to bewitch people into using it. There are a handful of practical arguments contrasting with alternative hardware, like getting "infinite display" or "a personal theater", but both are beset with technological limitations and a daunting cost calculus. (The best value appears to be as an immersive TV - but one that can only be used by one person.) Aside from that, it's all about being able to take in entirely new experiences. This, along with the iPad-esque note of "doing what you could do before but now much better", is the only reason for it.

At its core, there is a big source of tension in the product. It is supposed to, like iPhone and iPad before it, make interaction more direct. Bring things not into our periphery or into an indirect plane but right into our reality. But it can only do this when you are wearing it, and when you are wearing it you look like one of the evolutionary steps on the way to the people at the end of Wall-E.

Apple's materials try to counter this by showing a dad preparing breakfast and intercepting stray soccer balls from his sprog. But all the 3D photos and videos that you are supposed to enjoy are also taken by someone having had the product on their face. No doubt, Apple saw the problem with Google Glass "glassholes" and have been trying to cover up some aspects, like by letting the outward facing display show when you are taking a photo. But how anyone is supposed to be comfortable wearing this around in their life enough for the 3D photos and videos to be captured, or comfortable being around people constantly wearing them, is an open question. (Bet on iPhones being able to take 3D photos and videos soon, to give the adoption legs.)

All in all, what gives me hope about the Apple Vision Pro is that it is "good enough to criticize". If it doesn't eliminate screen door effect (where you can see the cracks between pixels), it will soon. If it costs entirely too much today, it will cost at least marginally less in a few years, probably by having a lower tier which none-the-less will have more processing power.

And the thing about Apple and the thing about the advancement of technology is that this is as clunky as it will get. It will only get sleeker and more capable over time. (It is already a "Pro" - there's not going to be a clunkier, faster "Pro Pro" model.) Whether physical limitations will forever bind you to looking like a dork while wearing it is anyone's guess. But in three years, at $1299, I'm hoping to find out.

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