Like everyone else in the tech space, I was excited to hear Apple announce a new product category at WWDC this past summer. Despite this, I don’t think Apple has done nearly enough to convince me to buy the Apple Vision Pro.
As preorders for the headset launched on January 19 in the U.S. before the headset ships on February 2, time will tell if its $3,499 price tag will appeal to many throughout the year.
Sure, I’ll go test it out as soon as I can get an appointment at my local Apple Store, but it’ll take more than a test drive to get me on board. Here’s what Apple would need to do in order to convince me to buy a Vision Pro.
Give me a use case I care about
I don’t know what I would need a Vision Pro for. Apple has shown people using the Vision Pro for gaming, work, and watching videos. I’m not what anyone would call a gamer. Sure, I’ve got a handful of cut-throat Words with Friends games going, and I’ve dabbled in Disney Emoji Blitz and Fruit Ninja. Yes, I’m sure that Super Fruit Ninja will be fun in Vision Pro, and would give me minutes of entertainment. But you won’t find me in an RPG or anything with blood or weapons or zombies, ever.
When it comes to work, I have several different jobs — but none of them would be improved by multiple computer screens or the sort of immersion that spatial computing would allow. So I’d never use it for work.
As for watching a video, I’m sure the experience would be vastly enhanced in a Vision Pro headset. But I’m perfectly happy watching content on my TV or even my iPad mini — I just don’t need the extra hassle of wearing something to watch a movie.
Plus, I rarely watch movies or TV alone, as I usually watch with my husband. So… what does he do while I’m immersed in Vision Pro? Does he have to get his own Vision Pro? What if we have company? I can see how it would be lovely on an airplane, to get lost in a film. But even as a regular traveler, that’s an occasional use case.
Now that you can take spatial photos and spatial videos on the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, I’m sure being “in” them while watching them back would be interesting. But I also think it would leave me feeling a bit empty, similar to how one could spend too much time poring over old family albums from long ago.
There's also keeping in contact with my kids. They're scattered around the world, and I rely on FaceTime to “visit” them. But putting on a Vision Pro headset to FaceTime with them? Just no.
Maybe I’d be able to see them better, but what would they be looking at? Some photo-realistic Vision Pro avatar of me? I shudder to think of it.
Make it seem less weird
Wearing a headset that covers my eyes anytime other than when I’m home alone feels way too weird to me. Perhaps the Apple Vision Pro will normalize wearing headsets like this in public somewhat, but I’d still feel weird.
Not to mention, as a smallish middle-aged woman, I’d feel, physically, quite vulnerable. The fake eyeballs that get projected from the 'EyeSight' part of the headset that people will be able to see, could make it very strange for them when trying to hold a conversation with me, compared to them looking at me with the headset off.
Make it light
I haven’t yet tried Apple Vision Pro, so I don’t know how it will feel on my head. But I have tried on an Oculus Vive headset, and it was way too heavy to be even remotely comfortable. Unlike the Oculus, the Apple Vision Pro comes with two different headbands, so you can choose the one that feels more comfortable to you — the Solo Knit Band and the Dual Loop Band. The Solo Knit Band is cushioned, breathable, and stretchy.
The Dual Loop Band gives you another option to try one on. Plus, the Apple Vision Pro has a Fit Dial to help the headset fit more comfortably on your head. Still, it’s going to weigh a pound or so, and I can’t even stand to wear heavy eyeglasses — I pay extra for lighter lenses. There’s no way I can wear a pound of equipment comfortably on my face, even with the nicest and most ergonomic headbands.
Don’t give me motion sickness
I’m prone to motion sickness. When I drove from San Francisco to Los Angeles, everyone told me I had to take the Pacific Coast Highway. I hated it. Not only did I feel like I was going to fall off (there are some serious hairpin turns) but I felt too sick most of the time to enjoy the view.
While I haven’t spent a lot of time in VR/AR headsets, the few minutes I spent in an Oculus was not at all enjoyable for me. Looking straight ahead was ok, but when I started looking around, I could feel motion sickness coming on. If anyone is going to get motion sickness using the Apple Vision Pro, it’ll probably be me.
Include a better solution for corrective lenses wearers
The Apple Vision Pro will have an option for ZEISS glass inserts; $99 for simple readers or $149 for prescription glasses. I have a complex prescription that includes progressive lenses. My prescription is complicated enough that my ophthalmologist warned me against ordering cheap glasses online, as they’d be unlikely to get it right.
I know that ZEISS makes high-quality lenses, but I don’t know if the $149 inserts would be right for me. I know that my glasses cost quite a bit more than that, even putting the cost of the exam and frames aside. Then there’s the issue of changing vision. Every year or two, my prescription changes enough to warrant buying new glasses.
Does this mean I’d need new inserts every time I buy new glasses? I’ve tried wearing my old glasses that I bought last year after adjusting to new ones, and going back and forth is quite uncomfortable. It wouldn’t be a great experience for me in the Vision Pro. I think Apple should make the Vision Pro self-adjusting in some way, or shaped to fit over users’ glasses.
Much more than two-hour battery life
The one place I can see enjoying the Vision Pro would be a long-haul flight. And yet, the battery life when watching videos is just two hours. That might not get me through even one movie, and certainly not across the Atlantic Ocean.
Some planes do have charging ports, but you can’t always count on them. I’m certainly not suggesting a bigger battery pack, but, the battery life leaves something to be desired.
Bring the price way, way down
Considering the extremely limited scenarios where I could see myself enjoying the Apple Vision Pro, the $3,499 price tag is far too high. It would have to be a fraction of that price for me.
At the current price point, I think we’ll see a lot of high-end tech enthusiasts and content creators with the Apple Vision Pro, but not a lot of other folks. I do think we’ll see the price come down under $3,000 pretty quickly, but I think it needs to be under $1,000 to get a foothold in the market.
Is there any hope for Apple Vision Pro?
I think the Apple Vision Pro will be a niche product for the foreseeable future. Of course, there are plenty of techies out there clamoring to get their hands on the Vision Pro. I can certainly imagine fantastic use cases for other folks. Imagine pilots training safely inside a headset before they fly actual planes. Or surgeons performing hours of surgery in a Vision Pro headset before they cut actual flesh.
There are certainly advantages for people with accessibility needs to be able to get immersed in the Vision Pro. But that’s still a small fraction of the population. Maybe the next version of the Vision Pro will address some of the issues above and get a stronger foothold in the market.
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Karen is a contributor to iMore.com as a writer and co-host of the iMore Show. She’s been writing about Apple since 2010 with a year-long break to work at an Apple Store as a product specialist. She's also a contributor at TechRadar and Tom's Guide. Before joining iMore in 2018, Karen wrote for Macworld, CNET, AppAdvice, and WatchAware. She’s an early adopter who used to wait in long lines on release days before pre-ordering made things much easier. Karen is also a part-time teacher and occasional movie extra. She loves to spend time with her family, travel the world, and is always looking for portable tech and accessories so she can work from anywhere.