I waited to post about AVP until I’d had the chance to try it. Did so yesterday; here are my first impressions.


When I booked the appointment for the demo, I had to answer questions about my eyesight. I wear prescription contact lenses; the app told me to bring my eyeglasses instead. That’s because the process at the store starts with an Apple employee (who was, as usual, courteous and helpful) scanning my eyeglasses for the prescription. Then, they scanned my face with an iPhone to determine the right fit.

I tried two different light shields and neither fit me exactly; I could see light entering the device from the bottom. This didn’t distract from the experience, but it surprised me given how the process makes a big deal about measuring my face. It also took a couple of tries before the Apple Store folk could get the device calibrated to my eyes. Eventually it worked and I went through the onboarding process. It was quick, but didn’t include the creation of a digital persona. (Which is part of the normal onboarding process.)

The person who walked me through the demo was new at the experience and had to ask for help from their colleagues several times. As a result, I had more time to explore than would’ve been otherwise the case. But the overall message was: this isn’t something you just pick up and use; it requires hand-holding.

AVP is the most customized tech product I’ve ever experienced. You can’t just pick one off the shelf. I doubt you ever will. It’s like buying a suit: you buy it to fit your measures. I can’t imagine the complex logistics behind the scenes: dozens of SKUs, myriad possible combinations of parts, between optical inserts, light shields, cushions, etc. Boggles the mind.


As with all Apple products, AVP is super high quality. Beautiful use of materials, astonishing fit and finish. It’s a delightful object from the future. It’s also larger and heavier than I expected. The official Apple travel case was sitting on the table in front of me, and it is huge. It would take half my carry-on bag. I can tell why it’s so big and puffy: AVP seems fragile; something that must travel inside a pillow.

I could feel pressure on my forehead and the bridge of my nose. I suspect this is partly due to the choice of holding the device in place with a band that wraps around the back of the head, which places all the pressure on the front.

When I took the device off at the end of the demo, my face had red blotches all over, especially on my forehead. It looked as though I’d been punched in the face, and this was only after fifteen minutes or so of wear. I can’t imagine wearing this thing for an hour or longer, at least not with the default behind-the-head strap. (I’d love to try the over-the-skull strap, but that wasn’t part of the demo.)


As everyone says, the passthrough video feed is very impressive. It looks as though you’re seeing the world through medium-gray ski goggles with a narrow field of view. But that’s impressive: if not for the digital things overlaid on the feed, you wouldn’t know you’re looking at video. UI elements are firmly pinned in place. If you move your head, they stay where they’re supposed to. The illusion that they’re things in the world is convincing.

Pointing to UI elements by looking at them takes practice. I couldn’t master it in the fifteen or so minutes I had with the device. Pinching to select is also not as intuitive as you’d expect. You must release the pinch for it to register; I had a tendency to keep my fingers clamped together.

I knew app windows could be positioned on the Z-axis (distance from you) in addition to the X- and Y-axes. What I didn’t know — and which surprised me — is that you can only position them within a relatively narrow band around you. Per my calculations, it comprises a ring from about a meter and a half to two meters around you. Meaning, you can’t position windows infinitely far away from you. Of course, you can also pin them in some part of the (physical) room and walk away, but I didn’t get the chance to try this. (The demo had me seated at a table in the Apple Store.)

Surprisingly, the most impressive part of the UI was sound. The side-mounted speakers are an astonishing accomplishment of audio engineering: I was utterly fooled into thinking I was hearing things in the real world. Also, my friend Alex was trying Vision Pro about two meters from where I was, and I couldn’t hear his audio feed. Very, very impressive.

Software and Content

I didn’t have a lot of time to play with AVP software. It’s mostly iPad apps that have been adapted to the new platform. They seemed to work well, but my demo only included photos and entertainment stuff. A pity, since my primary interest in AVP is for productivity. I didn’t get to try the virtual keyboard or what I most wanted to see: Mac screen sharing.

I did see a 3D clip from the recent Mario Bros. movie. It was good, but this isn’t a use case that interests me. Apple’s immersive experiences demo reel was more impressive: travel and nature stuff (a rhino you could almost touch) and a tightrope walker over a vertigo-inducing gorge. All impressive, but I’d seen similar things in VR before (if not as high quality.)

Spatial video was something else altogether. The 3D video of a family blowing out candles on a birthday cake made my jaw drop and almost brought tears to my eyes. An incredibly emotional experience. It wasn’t my family in the video, of course, but I could imagine what I’d feel if it was. Very impressive. That said, that video was shot using an AVP, which I couldn’t imagine doing IRL. The shots I saw taken with an iPhone (the more likely scenario) looked good, but were more like ViewMaster pictures.

The 3D video stuff is interesting, but not a reason to buy AVP. (At least not for me.) I’m still intrigued by the productivity use cases, considering that I work a lot on the iPad. I expect this would be similar, but with a much larger canvas to locate apps. It could be an excellent productivity environment given the right apps. The ability to dial reality out of the picture could be a boon for people who have trouble focusing on one task. I found the effect both convincing and relaxing. It changes the value of economy class airplane seats.

Final Thoughts

Is Apple Vision Pro the future of computing? I hope not. It’s the most personal computing experience I’ve ever had — as in, it’s meant only for me, an individual working and playing alone in my own virtual sandbox. But many of the most valuable things I do with computers involve other people.

The primary use case for AVP is entertainment: movie-watching and immersive experiences. But I watch movies and TV shows with my family almost exclusively. That’s because I want to have an experience with them. Shows are a MacGuffin for experiences with my family, not the other way around. AVP makes the experience the focus — and it’s a fundamentally individual experience.

WRT productivity, the primary use case is as a place for focus. David Sparks has written about using it as a virtual writer’s cabin, and that seems compelling. But a big part of what I do for work is meet with people, primarily over Zoom. I wouldn’t do this as a digital persona, at least not in its current form. For some use cases, it’s good to be alone in a completely digital environment. But not all. I’m concerned that this device will nudge people toward more isolation. It’s an impressive technological achievement but might be a step back socially.

Will I buy one? Perhaps. The digital writer’s cabin scenario is compelling to me. But the current version is very expensive for this sole use case. Of course, I design digital experiences for a living, so I should spend time exploring new interaction paradigms. AVP offers plenty, and that’s a compelling reason in itself. But I’d buy it knowing that it’s a device for isolation — at a time when we need human contact and collaboration more than ever.