When I sat down to watch this year’s WWDC, Yes I am that sad it’s a bit of an event I sat down to specifically watch, I was already expecting the worst. Very few details had leaked about exciting updates to iOS or macOS, but there were leaks aplenty about the upcoming headset. I don’t like computers on peoples faces, and Apple did nothing to persuade me otherwise.
What it did do is create a buzz around VR again, and make sure that Apple didn’t miss the boat. Both technologically and conceptually, the Vision Pro is already a success for Apple. I have no doubt that the device, even one that starts at $3,500, will be amazingly built. Containing numerous advancements and more than one breakthrough technologies. Yet in my heart of heart, I am conflicted by this device.
The overly airbrushed demos showed a world that simply doesn’t exist. Without mentioning that most of the videos appeared to be CGI, the concept Apple tried to create missed entirely. Whilst I expected the Vision Pro to be marketed heavily to creatives, the ability to interact with a massive screen anywhere you like is appealing, I didn’t expect the Black Mirroresque dystopian predictions. The vision of eyes displayed on a screen, so people know you can see them, genuinely made me shudder.
At the same time, I was also blown away by the device. The same dread filled eyes are a hint that Apple has thought about users being in a world of their own, and also the wider issue of people around you knowing they can be seen. This is Apple business 101, wait and see where a market leads to and then produce a device with its users in mind. Once it goes on sale, there will be no questions about the way the device works or that it delivers on the promises made.
Perhaps some of my worry comes from the rousing blog posts and YouTube videos crowing about how good it will be. There’s far too much tech bro web3 weirdness going on for my liking. Anyone that expresses concern or, god forbid, thinks the whole thing is a bit silly, is met with “you just don’t get it” type replies. I do get it, I thoroughly understand the device, the promise of spacial computing, I just weep a little for the world it might create.
I say might because I am just not convinced that the world conforms to Apple’s make believe world. I’ve never done half of what Apple seems to think people do with their devices, and I can’t see a world where people put massive goggles on to watch a film, at home, alone. Sure, it gives you a much more immersive experience where you can drown out everything around you, but is that really what is missing from our lives. Perhaps it is, and I am just an old man shouting at the clouds.
The thing about my strange melancholic feelings about the Vision Pro is the unshakeable feeling that maybe I am wrong. Perhaps people will strap something on their face to watch films, or record the world around them, or entertain themselves on a plane journey – and I am just a bit sad about that. Charlie Warzel summed this up perfectly when talking about the Vision Pro being the perfect device for the Apocalypse. He wrote “a future in which people with enough disposable income can retreat from the physical world into the gated-face community of a 360-degree iPhone screen” and it scared me.
There’s no preaching here. I use my devices to death, despite my desire not too, so I am not on the outside looking in. More on the inside looking out, desiring a simpler world with less intrusion and distraction but accepting that the world is not mine to mould. I could see the advantage of something like Google Glass, that overlayed information onto your world. Perhaps even Snapchat Glasses or Facebooks Ray-bans for being device free. To a certain point, I can also see the benefits of the Vision Pro for some demos Apple used, such as working on a large screen in the office, but the rest of it is just weird.
For the first time in a long time, we are introduced to a new computing world. I genuinely understand the excitement that I see in the tech world around me. I get it. You are not wrong to feel that way. I just think it’s been over sold and there will be many people who feel some very strange emotions after buying this device, and not just from the motion sickness.