The Apple Vision Pro Is Truly Unreal. That's a Problem

Writing for 'Vanity Fair,' Nick Bilton can see it making us crave augmented reality
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 7, 2024 1:08 PM CST
The Apple Vision Pro Is Truly Unreal. That's a Problem
The Apple Vision Pro headset is displayed in a showroom on the Apple campus after it's unveiling on June 5, 2023, in Cupertino, Calif.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

The $3,500 Apple Vision Pro hit stores last Friday, and despite hearing nothing but rave reviews from those who had gotten an early look ("I would say my experience was religious," director James Cameron told him), Nick Bilton had zero interest in giving the VR headset a try, or even reading about what was coming. "I just kept scrolling, like I do when I see anything about Harry and Meghan," he writes for Vanity Fair, and he told Apple CEO Tim Cook that very thing, to his face. Bilton explains he had spent the last decade trying out such headsets: Oculus, Rift, Vive, Quest, Quest 2, and Quest 3. They always ended up collecting dust after a few uses, with "the claustrophobia of putting something on my face" outweighing the benefits. But when he put the Apple Vision Pro on ... holy hell.

"This was as far from a VR headset as a kid's Schwinn bicycle is from a Gulfstream G800 private jet," Bilton writes. His initial demo took him to Oregon's Mount Hood, where "I could hear and see a million raindrops falling into Mirror Lake, so much so that I felt like I was there ... I interacted with graphics in midair that were crisper than anything I'd ever seen before. ... But most importantly, I saw the world around me. That very room. I didn't feel closed off or claustrophobic. I was there." But Bilton also shares what he sees as the device's unsolvable problem: When he takes it off, the real world he reenters feels "surprisingly flat." As one tech investor put it to him, "I'm sure the technology is terrific. I still think and hope it fails. Apple feels more and more like a tech fentanyl dealer that poses as a rehab provider." (Read the fascinating piece in full here.)

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