Long Apple Vision Pro blog by Hugo Barra (former Head of Oculus at Meta)

Excellent and detailed discussion of the Apple Vision Pro. Listing some of his point here, but the overall piece is very readable and interesting.

AVP as a product, design choices:

The Vision Pro’s instant magic comes down to just: (1) an unprecedented new level of presence in VR, and (2) a new UI superpower using gaze & pinch

Vision Pro’s positioning as a productivity & movie watching “big screen” is dull & unimaginative but Apple is unashamedly owning it. The Vision Pro launch is a significant missed opportunity, with Apple “welcoming us into the era of spatial computing” with a software and services stack that is practically only focused on 2D use cases.

Because of its heavy weight, Vision Pro has inevitably landed in the world as a high-quality “devkit” designed to capture everyone’s curiosity, hearts & minds with its magic (especially through the voice of enthusiastic tech influencers) while being realistically focused on developers as its primary audience. […] the Vision Pro is a devkit that helps prepare the world to receive a more mainstream Apple VR headset that could have product-market fit in 1 or 2 generations.
[…] it’s easy to understand two particularly important decisions Apple made for the Vision Pro launch:

  1. Designing an incredible in-store Vision Pro demo experience
  2. Launching an iconic woven strap that photographs beautifully even though this strap simply isn’t comfortable enough for the vast majority of head shapes

AVP hardware:

Apple intentionally calibrated the Vision Pro display slightly out of focus to make pixels a bit blurry and hide the screen door effect “in plain sight”.

The Vision Pro packs a lot more computing power than most people might realize — the M2 + R1 combination puts it at the level of a MacBook Pro
Apple’s decision to use a tethered pack will enable future Vision headsets to be much lighter by offloading compute to an iPhone, iPad or MacBook

On VR:

In order For Apple to make a huge splash entering the VR market — a category that’s been around the consumer world for nearly 10 years — they needed to launch a product that was unambiguously better than anything that had ever existed. The obvious way to do that was to attack the Achilles heel of all existing headsets and reinvent the VR display, and that’s exactly what Apple did with the Vision Pro.

Apple’s anti-VR stance is a risky move because it negates most of the traditional immersive content that has made the VR medium popular until now, and at least for now is painting Vision Pro into an empty corner. This reminds me of Apple’s broad stance on privacy — built to be in complete opposition to Meta/Google — which has put them in a tight spot by severely limiting their options and restricting innovation in the age of Gen AI.

Position relative to AVP developers:

This may be the first device category where Apple’s “build it and they will come” approach to creating developer traction may simply not work as previously. It will be many years (and possibly even more than a decade) before there are tens of millions of active Vision Pro users willing to pay for spatial AR apps. Apple will need to take a page out of the Oculus playbook and actively motivate developers financially to develop for Vision Pro.

The AVP for productivity:

The Vision Pro aspires to become your “spatial iPad Pro” with really good potential for much better multi-tasking (than an iPad) and the ability to do focused work anywhere, but there’s simply too much usability friction and too many important apps missing for that to be a reality today (or likely in the next 1-2 years).

The Vision Pro is a few software bug fixes away from being a suitable virtual-equivalent to an external monitor similar to a 27-inch Apple Studio Display that makes it easy to work immersively in VR using all your existing MacOS apps and workflows on a huge screen (but don’t expect an Apple XDR 6K experience!).

AVP (or even VR in general) for media consumption:

VR is simply not a medium people will gravitate towards for watching 2D media on a regular basis. Adding to this all of the Vision Pro’s comfort and friction issues, most people who get excited about watching media in the headset will eventually find themselves going back to their TV, tablet or laptop as their primary devices for video.

The super high-fidelity Apple Immersive video format will run into an unexpected and significant “uncanny valley” challenge as a consequence of its hyperrealism. Seeing someone right in such close proximity to you and in such high fidelity may feel cool to one person but will feel uncomfortable or overwhelming to others. Less so in a scene like this intimate music concert or sports game, but probably a lot more so in dramatic storytelling and other types of more realistic films.

Live sports will be Apple’s secret weapon to sell a huge number of Vision Pro headsets to hardcore fans — but it’s going to be a long & expensive journey

Regarding this last point:

Just to put things in perspective, prices of tickets for watching live sports (in the actual venue) have been going steadily up and are now in the $100s even for average to bad seats, with premium tickets easily going into the $1000s (the cheapest SuperBowl ticket in 2024 was around $2,000 at face value). The business case for a high-quality immersive “courtside” experience on Vision Pro is almost unquestionably very strong.

He ends with two Top 10 lists, one list of things that Apple should prioritize in improving with the AVP, the other a wish list for Quest Pro 2.

Regarding a possible Meta Quest Pro 2:

I fully expect the recently announced Meta/LG partnership to be all about creating a supply chain advantage for Meta so they can race a Quest Pro 2 product into market that can compete with Vision Pro with LG putting some skin in the game to lower the street price of the headset.