Apple’s Vision Pro headset has the potential to eventually mainstream AR in a way that other face computers haven’t, simply because it’s Apple.
But the Vision Pro is also unlike almost every other modern Apple product in one crucial way: It doesn’t disappear. In fact, it does the opposite. It rests on your face and shields your eyes, sensory organs that are a crucial part of the lived human experience. The same is true of every other heads-up display in the world, whether it’s a pair of AR glasses, an industrial-focused headset, or fully immersive VR goggles. The experience can be remarkable and surreal, for sure; but it requires a suspension of disbelief and a sacrifice of autonomy. Even Apple can’t out-design its way out of what is fundamentally an obtrusive technology.
Every successful Apple product of the past two decades has disappeared into our lives in some way—the iPhone into our pockets, the iPad into our purses, the Apple Watch living on our wrists, and the AirPods resting in our ears. Wearing the Vision Pro for hours on end will call into question what it means to compute, but also, what it means to live in the real world. My forehead felt cool when I took the Vision Pro off after around 30 minutes, a testament to Apple’s considerate design. But my face also breathed with relief, the way it has after using other heads-up displays. The air feels more real out here.
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