John Gruber: “First Impressions of the Vision Pro and VisonOS”
I got to spend about 30 minutes Monday afternoon using a Vision Pro and VisionOS at Apple Park, in a temporary “field house” building Apple constructed specifically for this experience. This was a one-on-one guided tour with someone from the Vision product marketing team, with the ground rules that I’m allowed to talk about everything I experienced, but photos and videos were not permitted.
It was a very fast 30 minutes, and the experience was, in a word, immersive. I’d pay good money just to run through the exact same 30 minutes again.
It was nowhere near enough time, nor was I able to wander far off the rails of the prepared demos. It’s very clear that the OS and apps are far from finished. But even given the brevity of the demo and constraints of the current state of the software, there are a few things I feel confident about describing.
Is it a compelling product, though? It’s a famous Steve Jobs axiom that technology is not enough, that you don’t make compelling products — let alone entire platforms — starting from advanced technology and working backward. You start with a vision for the product and platform experience and then create new technology to make it real. I simply can’t say whether Vision Pro is going to be a compelling product. I spent too little time with it, the software as of today is too far from complete, and, most importantly, the whole experience is too entirely new and mind-bending to render any such conclusion.
But the potential for Vision Pro to be a compelling product, across several use cases, is obvious. This might be great. And without question it is interesting, and I think the fundamental conceptual bones Apple has designed for VisionOS lay the groundwork for a long future. The first generation Vision Pro may or may not be a successful product — I simply don’t want to speculate on that front yet. But even just a small taste of VisionOS made me feel confident that it is going to be the next major platform for Apple and Apple developers, alongside MacOS and iOS/iPadOS.1
The first two types of experiences — doing computer “work”, and watching 2D and 2D-ish 3D content, have analogs to existing experiences. Using Safari in VisionOS is like using Safari on a Mac or iPad, but with a different presentation. Watching a movie in VisionOS is just watching a movie, albeit with the completely convincing illusion that you’re looking at an enormous room-filling cinema screen. But the third, these original immersive experiences, have no analogs except to the real world. It’s extraordinary, and only possible because Apple has gotten so many little things so exactly right.
I walked away from my demo more than a bit discombobulated. Not because it was disorienting or even the least bit nauseating, but because it was so unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. It strikes me that in some ways Bob Iger’s cameo during the keynote had the relationship between Apple and Disney backwards. Iger spent his keynote cameo talking about Disney creating original new content for VisionOS’s new medium. But after experiencing it, it felt more like what Disney should want is Apple providing this technology for Disney to use in their theme parks. The sports and dinosaur demos I experienced using Vision Pro were in many ways more immersive and thrilling than tentpole major attractions I’ve experienced at Disney World.
Are you going to want to buy a Vision Pro for $3,500? That price is high enough that the answer is probably not, for most of you, no matter how compelling it is. But are you going to want to try one out for an hour or two, and find yourself craving another hour or two? I guarantee it. You need to see it