This week on the Reps website I'm working on fixing bugs and adding some useful features.
I've started letting people try out the app on TestFlight, and in the latest post I write about some of the insights I've gained and what I'm currently working on.
Read the second dev diary here.
It's been a couple of weeks since the Vision Pro started arriving in people's hands. I've been following the reactions and posts across social media such as Mastodon, and Reddit.
I've seen people's initial posts on receiving it, countless posts around light seals, apps, band tips and hacks, and more. Even though I don't own one of these devices myself, I am very interested in what people think of it and want to be well informed for when it becomes available in my country.
Click-bait and half-truths #
This week has seen a couple of notable press drops, including Mark Zuckerberg saying the Quest 3 was a better product, followed by reporting from The Verge and Yahoo News (among others) saying that people are returning their AVPs.
As a response to these, I've seen a lot of people uncritically claiming on Mastodon that the product has failed, and that the majority of purchasers are unhappy enough to return it.
This isn't what I've seen elsewhere.
Magic until it isn't... and then? #
Over on r/VisionPro the mood is very different. This forum has gone through a journey this past couple of weeks. With the excitement around pre-ordering, to the hand-wringing over the Verge's lukewarm enthusiasm, to when the devices dropped and the journey since.
Something I saw a lot was a journey like this. There's an initial mix of excitement and enthusiastic posting, alongside a smaller number of people expressing some buyer's remorse. Then over the following days, these posts went from "I'm going to have to return this" to "I tried it again and I'm 50/50 now", then later in the week became "I'm starting to love this".
Concerns about comfort may not disappear for everyone, but for most people that, and the finicky eye tracking, the version-1 software glitches and the tunnel-like FOV become background noise as they continue to use the device.
It made me think of Nilay's quote in his review, that it's "magic until it's not". While that's right to a point, it doesn't really consider what happens after that. People learn more about what makes this device unique and in many cases grow to appreciate it over time.
There were definitely some people who in the end couldn't justify keeping the device that they had paid so much for, primarily as it didn't seem worth the expense. I can understand this, but the proportion of those who decided to spend all that money to later change their minds doesn't seem to be the majority.
Certainly not enough to justify reaching a conclusion that this product has failed and it being returned en masse. Yet that's what the headlines would suggest.
Tyre-kicking, clout-chasing and the return cycle #
I think a big part of what we're seeing is people using the return window to try out this new shiny thing. For some it's not worth keeping and that's perfectly reasonable. However I think the more vocal reports, mostly on the social video platforms, is from people milking the return window for click-baiting content.
The cycle for these people is to jump on the new thing, make content about ordering it, then using it, and finally make as much noise as they can when returning it. All these steps drive clicks and income, and costs them nothing as they get a full refund. I don't think this represents the average consumer or Apple fan. It's an easy way to both seem on the cutting edge, build an audience, and do so on the cheap.
What to think? #
Having read hundreds of threads by real-world users expressing their excitement, concerns, disappointments, hacks and hopes, I think this is very much an early adopter product that won't make everyone happy. Not yet anyway. It's pricey, finicky, but equally is awe-inspiring and a glimpse of a possible AR-infused future.
It's an interesting product. Definitely not for everyone but at the same time, I do wish people would stop and think about what they're sharing when they echo the headlines that cherry-pick the "bad" news. This is a very exciting time to be in the Apple ecosystem and I'm looking forward to some day trying my own AVP.
Over on the Reps website I've started blogging about the process of making my side project iOS app.
In this first post, I cover everything from ideation, to building out data schemes, 3D assets creation, ScrollViews and more.
Read the first dev diary here.
Developers have been working hard to create or update their apps for Apple Vision Pro. Here's a list of selected apps you might want to try out.
Strap in, cancel your Netflix, and load up some amazing apps!
Prefer to see ALL the apps? There's a great list of supported visionOS apps in this Google doc. Worth a bookmark when you're looking for new ideas.
Productivity & Lifestyle #
Shortcut Buttons - This looks fun! Add shortcuts to locations.
Runestone - A beautiful plain-text editor. I can see myself building websites and blogging with this.
PCalc - James Thompson's powerful scientific calculator will be ready to go at launch.
Finalist - Daily / monthly planner to keep track of life.
Söka - Manage your bucket lists and set new goals.
Fin - Budget Tracker - A beautiful budget app with interesting 3D-lit bar charts.
Crouton - Beautiful recipe manager and meal planner.
J.Crew - Fashion shopping.
Focus - Pomodoro time-tracking app for productivity.
Moosti - Attractive pomodoro / mindfulness app.
Subjects - Easily manage school subjects and schedules.
Great White Board - A minimalist, fun shared whiteboard experience.
Voice Pen - Avoid the built-in keyboard with this excellent transcription app that uses AI to improve accuracy.
Spatial Symphony - Create custom soundscapes with hand-controlled music synthesis.
djay - Virtual decks and mixing optimised for an immersive experience.
Piano: Flowing Tiles - Guided piano playing in AR.
LongPlay - Rediscover, enjoy and organise your album collection.
Spool - Create visuals for your music.
Complete HeartX - Explore how the heart works.
Lungy - A deeply beautiful breathing app that applies a little medical rigor.
Coachy - Bodyweight fitness workouts.
PGA Tour Vision - Experience golf like never before.
NBA - Live scores and insights on basketball stuff.
MLB - Live baseball and on-demand.
ESPN - Live sports and scores.
Discovery+ - TV show streaming.
Crunchyroll - Anime streaming.
Cricket Scores Live Matches - Cricket stats and live streams.
Disney+ - All the usual Disney content including 3D movies, custom environments and more.
Play - Save videos to watch later.
Study Snacks - Playful learning.
Memorii - Flashcards for learning Chinese hanzi, Japanese kanji, and Korean hangul.
Game Room - A collection of tabletop games in an immersive environment.
Cut the Rope - Cute physics-based puzzler.
Demeo - Tabletop RPG simulator.
Ploppy Pairs - A colorful fun memory game.
Void-X - A bullethell game with interesting particle effects.
Steam Link - Play your Steam library on a massive virtual screen.
Gametrack - Track and share your gaming life.
Kattam - Not sure yet but should be a game available at launch. Check back for details.
Developer tools #
Spatial Effects - A particle emitter playground. Step into a world where your imagination comes to life with Spatial Effects!
Bento|Craft - Create beautiful promotional artwork to highlight your app's features.
Other Stuff #
Widgetsmith - Create a personal experience with a wide range of widgets.
JigSpace - Explore 3D objects.
Voice in a Can - Virtual Alexa assistant.
Carrot Weather - A crazy-powerful (and privacy-conscious) weather app.
Mercury Weather - A fun and beautiful weather app.
Plant Daddy - The modern, cute little place to keep track of your plants’ needs.
Night Sky - See what's above you. I'm really looking forward to what this could bring.
Ocean Chill - Relaxing ocean vibes.
Got any others? #
If you hear of a cool app you'd like me to add to this or the next roundup, let me know.
Let's discuss the vision in Apple Vision Pro, and what this product represents.
Looking to the future #
Imagine we could make use of technology without being bound by screens. All while living our day to day lives. Seamlessly blending the virtual with reality.
This is what AR (augmented reality) promises, and we are not there yet. Camera and screen technology is only now reaching a level where we can present our surroundings at a high enough fidelity to be considered AR, and even then the headsets are bulky and not the most comfortable experience.
The vision of AR is that technology will enable a seamless integration of our computing lives with the real world around us. I think this headset from Apple is a step toward making it a reality.
Simulations in simulations #
When we build apps on our computers using Xcode's simulator, it simulates the experience of how the app would look in Vision Pro. This allows us to have some idea of what it will be like when the app is used by a user on the device.
I see the Vision Pro headset as a simulator for what a truly augmented reality would look like. Just as the simulator on Xcode is a two-dimensional proxy to the real thing, this headset from Apple uses cameras (and some clever algorithms) to represent what we'd see without any headset. It then adds the our apps and content, as if they were in the real world around us.
This differs from other headsets whose purpose was virtual environments. These devices purpose is to take the user into a new space and present all-encompassing 3D experiences. These are great and have many uses, but I don't think VR (virtual reality) is Apple's primary goal.
The lack of emphasis on games is an example. Until now, the primary goal of VR headsets has been gaming and socialising within virtual worlds.
Vision Pro is more about presenting us with our own world, which is then augmented.
A platform for experimentation and learning #
I think Apple is trying to make a very good headset that will be fantastic for both VR and AR experiences. Apple wants people to be able to step away from their world into entirely new spaces, but I don't think VR is the whole game. This is a new platform in which we can work out what works or doesn't work in a platform that aims to ground us in our own world.
Just as the original iPhone emphasised touch as an input, this headset will encourage developers to experiment with controller-free eye tracking and hand tracking. It will allow us to build applications that explode out of the bounds of the screens, and make use of the infinite canvas all around.
It will allow us to work toward a future of computing in which we remain better connected to our environment and those around us while also enjoying all the benefits our technology offers.
A first step #
Many commenters have suggested that this is a beta test of a product, or an prototype, and in a sense I agree. This headset is a bulky, power-hungry device that is not something many people will want to wear all day.
For that reason I see this as the first step toward a new approach to human-computer interation. It's not there yet, but this is glimpse of how it could be.