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Can Apple rescue the Vision Pro?| GuyWhoKnowsThings

When I first held a Apple Vision Pro Earlier this year, it seemed magical.

I loved the $3,500 “spatial computing” headset, though I really couldn't understand what was it for? For weeks, she carried him everywhere, enduring critical looks (or were they jealous looks?) from colleagues in the office, strangers in coffee shops, and fellow travelers on planes. I even used the Vision Pro in the back seat of a self-driving Waymo car, which I think qualifies me for some sort of “Mr. San Francisco Award.

But the novelty wears off and I barely use the Vision Pro these days. Every few weeks, I pop it on my head to do a little writing or watch a movie in bed while my wife sleeps. Otherwise, she sits on a shelf collecting dust.

Apple has not released sales figures, but it has released analyst estimates. suggest that the device has been a failure, selling fewer units than expected. Social networks are not full of videos of enthusiasts “Vision brothers” wearing his headphones in public, as he was in the days after the device's launch. Some early adopters they returned their Vision Pros for refunds, and lightly used headphones are sale for as little as $2500 on resale websites.

When I conducted an informal survey of other Vision Pro owners I know, mostly journalists and tech workers, I found that few of them were using theirs either.

“I haven't touched mine in a month,” a friend texted me. “It's a shame, I was so optimistic.”

In its annual developer conference On Monday, Apple announced some new features for the Vision Pro, including a new version of its VisionOS operating system, new gesture controls, and a way to turn old photos into three-dimensional “space photos” that can be viewed on the device. Apple also said it would soon start selling the Vision Pro in countries including China, Japan and Britain.

But these were modest tweaks, not the radical overhaul many Vision Pro fans were hoping for. And Vision Pro was overshadowed by Apple's newest, brightest project: generative AI, which the company calls “Apple Intelligence” and is driving many of its products and services, including a improved version of Siri which will be available on iPhones this year.

It's enough to make me wonder: Is Apple giving up on the device that, just a few months ago, The executives were announcing like the future of computing?

You probably don't own a Vision Pro, so I won't bore you with a full list of my complaints about the product or reasons why I suspect Apple is losing interest in it. But here are some of its most obvious shortcomings:

The first and most obvious is the cost. Apple may consider $3,500 a fair price for a first-generation device. (You can even be (a fair price, considering all the expensive, cutting-edge components included). But $3,500 is simply more than the vast majority of consumers would consider spending on an experimental device that doesn't replace their smartphone or laptop, and that doesn't fill an obvious need in their life.

I don't mind the headset itself, although as many reviewers have noted, it's too heavy to wear comfortably for long periods. (My longest Vision Pro session was three hours and I felt a little hungover afterwards.) But there are many other annoying hardware problems. Carrying an external battery around is a shame, it doesn't work well in dark or dimly lit rooms and there's no good way to enter text, so if you want to use Vision Pro for any type of text-based work, you have to use a Bluetooth keyboard.

The Vision Pro also lacks some basic features. You can't make or receive phone calls with it, like iPhone users can with Macs and iPads. Vision Pro is only compatible with Apple's Magic Trackpad, not Bluetooth mice. And guest mode, the way you show the Vision Pro to your friends when they ask you to try it themselves, is a disaster.

But the biggest disappointment with Vision Pro is how few good apps there are. Several months after its debut, there is still no native YouTube or Netflix app. There is no Spotify, no Instagram, no DoorDash. (You can still use some of these services in a web browser or use unofficial third-party apps, but it's a worse experience.)

Some of these apps are missing due to corporate infighting. (Google and Meta, for example, have their own VR ambitions and presumably don't want to give Apple's product a boost by creating apps for it.) But others amount to a lack of trust. Developers don't want to create apps for platforms no one uses, and their reluctance so far (only about 2,000 apps have been developed for the Vision Pro, Apple said Monday) says something about the device's lukewarm reception.

Apple has also been slow to update its own offerings for Vision Pro, such as a series of “immersive videos,” filmed with special 3D cameras and released through Apple TV. These videos, which included a prehistoric nature film and a “rehearsal room” video of Alicia Keys and her band performing a song, were designed to showcase the Vision Pro's high-definition graphics and its “spatial audio” feature. ”, and they are among the best things you can do with a Vision Pro.

But Apple hasn't released new immersive videos at a regular pace. And once you run out, what you end up seeing on the Vision Pro is pretty much the same thing in two dimensions that you'd see on a TV or iPad. It's fun to use the Vision Pro every once in a while to watch “Dune: Part Two” on a screen the size of a basketball court, but most of the time it's not worth it.

I still think the Vision Pro is a remarkable piece of technology. All of my friends who have tried mine oohed and aahed and said how futuristic it felt. (Though telling, none of them have gone out and bought their own.) And if Apple is content with the Vision Pro remaining a niche entertainment device, it's right.

But if Apple wants the Vision Pro to appeal to the masses, it needs to make some changes. The price should go down. (Yes, even if it means selling headphones at a loss.) It should fix the bugs, polish the rough spots, and release more immersive content. The most urgent thing is to find and fund life-threatening applications: new games, productivity tools and entertainment experiences that take advantage of Vision Pro's features, and that could be reason enough for a person to buy one.

To be fair, the Vision Pro is still new and other Apple products have taken a generation or two to find their feet. (The Apple Watch flopped when it was launched as a high-end fashion accessory, until Apple discovered that fitness tracking was the main feature.) The company has repeatedly said that it considers the Vision Pro an early experiment: “the technology of tomorrow, today,” as Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, put it — is not a fully formed product.

But I worry that Vision Pro has fallen into a dangerous purgatory. It's not Apple's flashiest new project: it's all the artificial intelligence stuff that Wall Street is crying out for and that many users are excited about. And it's not one of Apple's big, established cash cows, like the iPhone or iPad, that people will buy even if each version is only slightly better than the last.

To reach its potential, the Vision Pro needs a little more love and, well, a little more vision. Apple needs better answers to basic questions like: What is this for? How will it improve my life or make me more productive than other things I could buy for $3,500? What can I do on it that I can't do on my laptop or a large TV?

Otherwise, the Vision Pro could become obsolete. And my fellow Vision Bros and I can emerge as the Google Holes 2024: A brave but ultimately foolish tribe of nerds who bet on a new futuristic technology and lost.

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