What's Apple's Vision Pro killer app?

Posted:
in visionOS

Apple's upcoming immersive computing hardware has a ballpark price starting at $3,500. What Apple Vision Pro application could possibly stoke a sustainable mass-impulse to snatch up such a device in quantities sufficient to build a healthy business that Apple expects?

Vision Pro apps
Vision Pro



When Apple pulled back the curtains at WWDC to show off its new Vision Pro hardware, the responses were so predictable that a middling AI bot could have written them out in advance.

From the Ballmeresque, pearl clutching of "but it's so expensive" to the defeatist handwringing of analysts who shared their concerns of how everyone's already tried everything in the VR product space and failed, through "everyone knows Apple can't innovate, and this other company already has something we should be talking about instead," the tech media's collective manufactured sausage-grinding has offered little more than a reheated response of we were last fed at the debut of iPod, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and so on.

So perhaps, if these concerns have all ready been voiced to oblivion, they've also already been answered in a way that can offer us some insight into how this particular wrinkle of consumer tech will unfold for Apple, beginning in the upcoming year.

This all happened before



The core tenants of how to blow out a blockbuster consumer tech product have been on public display dating back to the early year's of Apple's founding. As I detailed in the previous article, looking at how Apple has so consistently hit bangers out of the ballpark in a way that's changed how the world works, this firstly involves studying the status quo market and building a product that delivers a complete, even if flawed, solution to a need; then effectively communicating this value proposition to a large enough audience, while working with partners to deliver even wider options through software; and then operationally delivering the solution at scale with enough profitability to maintain the momentum.

In fewer words: "delivering a cohesive, valuable experience that Apple's customers will want to buy, and that Apple's partners will want to add value to."

Thus the question is set up. What specific sort of valuable experience can Vision Pro deliver that will bedazzle us to the point where enough of us not only spend serious coin to get it, but also that we collectively as a society will decide that this is something we want to be paying for on an ongoing basis, to enable an entirely new ecosystem of immersive applications that all need to be developed and maintained?

This is a preposterously high bar.

Apple's Vision Pro
Is there a killer among Apple's Vision Pro apps?



Apple isn't just an artist that cranks out monumental, standalone works that attempt to "express an idea." For an Apple product to "work" and be considered minimally successful, it has to actually deliver a life changing level of value across a very large audience willing to pay actual money for it, and it has to pique the curiosity of third party thinkers to influence them to pour their lives into building new forms of interconnected utility or convenience or entertainment to add value to what's already there.

As it did with the original Apple II, the Mac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and so on, Apple is launching not just a new hardware product for sale, but is also putting together an ecosystem of added value. This distinguishes Apple from other makers of products that largely provide a self-contained unit of value.

If you buy a fancy refrigerator, or a pair of shoes, or a car, or a potato peeler, much simpler laws of supply and demand determine if you get a good deal at an acceptable price and if the maker can continue their production goals and if the product is a hit or a flop.

With Vision Pro, Apple is launching an entire platform based on the concept that if there's software, the real end value will be astronomically higher than if its just a one trick pony that does a particular job, such as playing immersive games. The fun thing about Apple is that the company is remarkably good at successfully launching platforms, in a world where potential platforms of any kind are complicated, tricky, and littered with the bodies of failures.

Apple is good at making difficult look easy.

Bigger than big



As is generally the case, Apple is not the first big mover in this emerging conceptual space of "immersive computing." Other vast tech titans have already spent enormous amounts of money to develop something seemingly comparable.

Notably, almost seven years ago Microsoft floated its HoloLens helmet, which on the surface seems to share some things in common with Vision Pro, including its $3,000 starting price tier. Yet since HoloLens first appeared as a "Development Edition" back in early 2016, and despite being subsidized by American government contractors as interesting technology it hasn't changed how the world works in any appreciable significant way. Certainly not for consumers.

HoloLens
Microsoft's Holo future of the past



Three incremental generations in and billions of dollars under the bridge, HoloLens is an Intel-based Windows PC with custom graphics hardware to overlay projected images on top of what you're looking at. It's best shot at producing a "killer app" to drive sales was immersive learning, with the U.S. military making a large purchase for use in training as a quite literal killer app.

That idea was so disturbing to the Holo development team that a swath of the people who worked on it made a public protest that they were upset to see their efforts being used for such an application of "war and oppression."

Microsoft has a long and storied history of finding ways to repose its Windows PC to sit as a placeholder in various product categories, from a phone to a music player to a tablet to a watch. Yet all of these efforts ended up being busywork that didn't really change the world or even sell in commercially significant or successful quantities.

As the "opposite of Apple" in the consumer space, Microsoft can only shuffle around and recommend its one PC hit as a solution for new markets, but can't quite manage to actually pull this off. Certainly not as successfully as Apple, despite having blown so much money so many times in various attempts aimed at the same market.

HoloLens does however demonstrate that even a company with a vast ecosystem of Windows developers and gads of money can't figure out how to position an "immersive computing" product in a way that would entice anyone to buy it, even when defining the target audience as being limited to enterprise users.

But Microsoft was also a delusional mess in smartphones, in tablets, music players, watches, and in other areas that both preceded Apple's debut in those markets -- and in some cases attempted to turn around and copy Apple's delivered success -- all without ever really achieving any of its own. So the flop of HoloLens can't really provide any evidence that the public isn't potentially interested in immersive computing.

It only proves that big PC licensing companies with a lot of money can't figure out how to do the things that Apple can, with the seemingly effortless panache of a $3 trillion dollar, scrappy startup of 40 years.

More than money



Another bag of money, this time from surveillance advertising, threw an outlandish amount of possibility at the goal of beating Apple into the world of immersive computing. Well, two. First was Google with its characteristic approach of half-assedly floating out some partially done work with the expectation that third parties would jump in and do all the heavy lifting needed to deliver a successful product, and that doe-eyed fanboys would go out and evangelize the public in why anyone wanted to buy this, largely based on the idea that it has a low price subsidized by all the surveillance advertising and spyware that covers some of the bill while converting the user into a product to be shaken down for their behavioral data.

Remember Cardboard? Google's VR goggle efforts were largely oriented around attaching an Android phone to your face. Importantly, neither Google nor its partners nor its fans really put enough effort into doing their jobs, so nothing ever materialized apart from a lot of people wasting some their time to look like clowns.

Google Cardboard
Google's affordable Cardboard



But that also doesn't prove there isn't a killer app in immersive computing. It just means that a major new category shift isn't easy to pull off in your spare time without much effort.

Google's repeated attempts at doing a lot -- but not enough -- of the critical work needed to build out a complete thought have all contributed to a graveyard of failed alphas and betas.

Facebook, the other surveillance advertising bag of money, took the most reasonable shortcut in acquiring Oculus' existing work rather than building its own VR helmet from scratch. Yet despite taking somebody else's already finished product and throwing huge sums at building a "meta world" as a differentiating killer app to drive adoption, Facebook is struggling to see real enthusiasm from consumer audiences.

This parallels Facebook's similar efforts in delivering a Facebook phone, the thing that was supposed to derail iPhone at multiple times.

Nothing could be more "meta" than trying to use marketing to concoct a gigantic, desperate platform of "metaverse" to add nuance to something where the only real value was what you know about something. Yet nothing of Facebook's Meta really delivers an attractive, sustainable, competitive framework of value that enough consumers will continue buy in a cycle.

Meta is effectively trying to sell Quest VR as a technology, a fun quirk of a thing that could be used to do something fun, but if only it were better and only if it could do something justifiably useful.

Not just a Game



Like Meta's Quest, Sony's PlayStation VR, the HTC Vibe and others, much of the existing Virtual Reality headset space has centered on VR gaming as its killer app. And certainly, people who want to play games have represented the majority of interest in the immersion space. What else of commercial value could one accomplish, beyond training soldiers or technicians remotely, other than offer some sort of surround gaming experience?

Conversely, in the space of gaming based VR, goggle prices begin around $350-500, with Meta's higher end Pro model asking around $1,200. These prices can deliver a fun gaming experience, but are selling to a niche market: single digit millions. The lower prices are trying to reach a larger market, but that also prevents them from delivering core utility that can do much beyond basic gaming. How would someone get their company to buy a VR gaming toy for them?

VR helmet
VR isolates the user into their own world



Today's VR helmets are a bit like 3DTV from a few years ago. They are fun to try for about 15 minutes, and appeal to certain small groups of technology enthusiasts. No amount of "journalistic" handwaving or other public relations activity has managed to get consumers to really enjoy 3DTV enough to drive sales of 3DTV sets in any sort of commercially sustainable fashion.

I once bought a 3DTV and some pairs of active LCD glasses just to frivolously experience the future promised by the big companies who were assuring us that we really wanted this latest fad and how this new technology would change how we experience things. I have to say -- it was no Macintosh.

Even with some concerted efforts at trying to enjoy and appreciate all the work that went into delivering it, 3DTV ended up a passing fancy. Video games, movies, even realtime simulation of existing content in 3D never really found its footing as on experience that anyone decided they should pay for with any longevity. I struggled to ever watch more than half of a 3DTV movie before reverting to 2D.

After a fiercely relentless push, TV makers eventually threw in the towel on 3DTV, shortly after 3D effects had made their valiant but fleeting efforts on smartphones and handheld video game devices.

Like 3DTV -- and the early smartphones of the early 2000s -- today's VR helmets are sharply constrained in utility by the limits of their low prices, while at the same time, devices asking for more money can't woo enough market share to develop a higher quality tier of functionality to establish a sustainable market that could support dynamic ongoing development. There's simply not enough critical mass to ignite an ecosystem to support life.

Following the model of big box retailers, big box device makers threw out their best efforts and then effectively responded to disinterest shown by the market. Just as the paper thin 3DTV experience flopped out of the gate, they gave up. The mirage of dimension layered onto the conventional TV wasn't going to be the new thing that sold another generation of TVs.

Core utility in a vision



At the same time however, there is clearly some core utility in replicating a first hand visual experience. One of the most powerful, in person experiences to be created by civilization is the performance of live music and theater. Over the past century, the inherent entertainment value in live performances spawned the development of technology needed to record and deliver a reproduction of these experiences, both for the convenience and flexibility of delivering these to new and larger audiences, in other places and at other times.

AirPods Meme
AirPods sparked joke memes, but Apple laughed all the way to the bank



Live music acts, theater, and vaudeville were first captured in audio recordings and rebroadcast as radio just over a century ago. The entire business of audio recording has been a rapidly evolving phenomenon up to today's reality of audio streaming, live FaceTime communications, and even Apple Watch's wearable Walkie-Talkie.

Apple only recently launched its immersive, surround sound spatial audio format, which quietly made a debut at WWDC before anyone seemed to anticipate the step arriving. For some time now, we've been able to deliver immersive, stereo audio to headphones in a way that makes you feel convincingly connected to a remote event, such as listening to a studio recording of a song. The evolution of teleporting a visual experience has been different and more complicated.

Apple uniquely saw the value in delivering a marketplace for recorded immersive spatial audio that can respond to head positioning, something that no other consumer tech makers were really focused on. Delivering a similarly immersive visual experience is more complicated.

Yet that's the core utility premise of Vision Pro: being able to experience immersive visuals. And not only see things, but be able to interact with what you're seeing in a human user interface presentation intuitively familiar to Mac, iPhone and iPad users.

We have two ears and two eyes, but the way our brains perceive audio and visual reality are different enough that it's quite a lot easier to deliver an immersive audio experience with headphones. Negotiating a way to not only present immersive video information to our eyes, but also sync that with head movement to create a convincing feeling of reality requires a significant level of infrastructure!

Apple didn't just focus on the concept of a wide, immersive field of view to put you close up and inside a video world, which is the minimum needed to deliver VR gaming. Vision Pro goes beyond that to deliver the kind of product Apple has become very successful in consistently producing: a bit mapped display tied to a consistent human user interface where targets are selected and manipulated as directly as possible.

That began with the Mac's mouse and later trackpads, then iPad's touchweel, iPhone's direct capacitive touch, and Apple Watch's Digital Crown and hand gestures. With Vision Pro, this interface expands to include eye tracking, allowing the user to interact with what they are looking at as effortlessly and intuitively as possible.

Headed to Spatial



Apple also focused Vision Pro on the shoulders of giant technologies it had uniquely brought to the mass market, including spatial audio and the work it did to deliver augmented reality on the iPhone screen: effectively linking a moving screen and camera inputs to a synthetically created computing interface. These deliver the Mac-like human interface tied to a virtual spot in front of the user, allowing it to float in tandem with their head movements.

Tim Cook identified AR as key to his vision for the next big thing
Tim Cook identified AR as key to his vision for the next big thing



It took Apple several years to develop AR features and the developer platform tools to support an AR ecosystem. It first positioned these as a cool feature on iPhones and iPad, but the real target was its eventual deployment on Vision Pro in an immersion environment.

Notably different from existing, purely VR helmets, Apple's AR approach allows the user to wear the device while not being isolated in their own darkened world of graphics. Rather than just looking at an eye level, immersive display, Vision Pro superimposes its graphical interface on top of what the user would be seeing without the helmet installed: a video feed of the outside world.

This dramatically changes the VR experience into one where the user isn't merely dropped into a solitary, enveloping world of fantasy, but is instead able to call up applications in front of them, and enjoy immersive audio and video experiences that they can dial themselves in and out of as they desire. Apple's recognition that users don't feel comfortable for extended sessions in a purely isolated VR world seems pretty essential to delivering a product one could wear in the workplace, or even at home, without fear of falling down or without needing full isolation from the inherent hazards of wearing a VR headset.

Further, the EyeSight feature Apple demonstrated-- which displays an image of the wearer's eyes on the front of the headset-- serves another important goal: it further integrates the wearer into their surroundings to other people in the room. Instead of being obscured and isolated inside of a VR realm, wearers are integrated into their surroundings, enabling the wearer to interact with others in the room and not trip over an end table or a child.

EyeSight shows a user's eyes on the external display
EyeSight shows a user's eyes on the external display



These important minimum capabilities of Vision Pro greatly expand its cost, making it significantly more expensive than gaming-centric VR rigs. But this core value and functionality contributes to making a system users can spend enough time using-- and functionally using-- greatly increasing its value proposition to the most valuable markets available.

Thus I think the killer app for Vision Pro will be a combination of its features: enabling virtual, facial appearance based communications rather than the cartoon avatars dreamed up in most VR, immersive enjoyment of recorded entertainment including virtually putting the user in an event, meeting or concert audience where they can actually participate in the experience both through AR inputs, and appearing to outsiders as an actual person, and an immersive desktop of familiar apps.

Skating to where the puck will be



If these things sound familiar, perhaps you are recalling Steve Jobs' 2007 introduction of the iPhone, which he unveiled as an "iPod with touch controls, a phone, and a breakthrough internet communications device," which we could paraphrase as "media, communications and networked apps." It wasn't just three devices, it was three killer apps, all in one device.

At the time, Jobs likely didn't fully appreciate exactly how users would embrace iPod features from iTunes; Apple Music hadn't yet made the huge shift toward streaming (popularized by Spotify) as market demand shifted away from individual song purchases. Apple hadn't even lined up movie rentals in iTunes yet, which Jobs would later debut in 2008. Today's media experience on iOS has dramatically changed from its humble origins.

Apple also didn't quite know how Messages would ultimately work on iPhone. At the time, Jobs was promoting the utility of "desktop-class" emails over phone based SMS. The first iPhone couldn't even send MMS images.

Apple didn't debut FaceTime until iOS 4, and at its introduction, Jobs anticipated that the other phone makers would openly license the technology cross platform. Instead, its competitors of 2010 all rapidly died off, leaving only Google and its Android partners with nothing but contempt for Apple and its FaceTime. Google expected it would introduce its own FaceTime killer and leave iPhones out in the cold.

Instead, Apple today effectively owns secure phone messaging in the U.S. It brought Messages cross platform to its non-mobile IP devices (Mac, iPad and Apple Watch) beyond the iPhone's first origins as a way to interact with other phones. Messages is a primary reason why people migrate to iPhone. Who'd have thought at the release of iPhone this would happen?

Steve Jobs iPhone
Steve Jobs introduced iPhone in 2007



Further, the apps platform Apple was working to deliver for iPhone in 2007 was limited to the first party tiles Apple could get out the door on the first generation. It had to scramble over the next year to put together third party access to outside developers.

Many thought Apple had simply failed to grasp the potential of third party apps for iPhone, but I had the opportunity to ask Jobs about Apple's plans for apps before iPhone's public release. He very clearly explained, in front of a meeting full of shareholders, that Apple knew this would be essential to deliver but that there were complex problems to solve first, including security and privacy issues.

At the time, pundits were adamant that Apple needed to deliver third party phone apps using Java and Flash. This was clearly not going to happen to anyone who had seen what Apple was working on at WWDC. I was able to write "Thoughts on Flash" before Jobs published his own version. Apple already had a development platform, and iPhone was effectively just a portable Mac. Apple didn't need Flash, it already had Xcode.

Killer apps in reverse



Way back in 2007, Apple had outlined what killer apps would power iPhone. It wouldn't be one specific program the way VisiCalc had driven Apple II sales back in the late 70s, or the way PageMaker's desktop publishing had initially justified the purchase of high end Macs in the 1980s.

In the 1990s, Apple's platforms were driven by multimedia, but the increasing absence of key apps-- largely Microsoft's aging Office titles, as well as a variety of other key apps that were tied to Windows or prioritized their development to the PC, including many video games-- were killer apps in reverse: the essential software that kept people from buying Macs.

As the 2000s were about to begin, Microsoft and Sony DRM also threatened to cut off unobstructed access to commercial music, TV and movies to Apple's Mac platform, resulting in Apple's huge existential push to establish iTunes as a functional market for music, video purchases and eventually movie rentals and media streaming. That helped save the Mac from the killer app threat posed by DRM withholding media access. That effort also powered the rise of iPod and Apple's other mass-market, mobile devices.

By 2010, Apple was establishing iOS, and then iPadOS, as the most powerful and valuable mobile app markets, a huge shift from being the Mac underdog. Into the current 2020s, Apple has refined and homogenized its app development tools and deployment to facilitate seamless, portable app development across its platforms. This has set the stage for a powerful immersion app platform using a familiar interface, powered by the advanced new eye sight-based navigation of Vision Pro.

Three killers in one



Like the original iPhone, the killer app for Vision Pro will be a similar, familiar combination of media, messaging, and apps that will evolve in concert with the direction of society and consumer demands. The first big features will be Apple's immersive version of its own apps, including support for viewing spatial images, panoramas and commercial movies projected across the user's view; other apps Apple demonstrated, including games; and AR-powered messaging that allows remote users to speak in a group as if they were actually in the same room.

Some aspects of these features already exist for VR helmets, the same way smartphones in 2006 could handle some form of media, communications and networked apps. Java and Flash applets weren't enough to keep enough excited buyers from opting to try iPhone, despite its cost premium over basic smartphones.

As I documented at the time, there were lots of expensive smartphones that cost more than an iPhone when it first debuted. But they were hard to use, offered unfamiliar interfaces, didn't achieve their own installed base with a critical mass to compete for app attention that could justify paying $900 or more for a cell phone to very many people. Today millions of Apple's customers willingly pay more than $1,000 for the latest iPhone every year.

Killer app evolution



As Vision Pro begins to be more widely adopted, expect Apple's trio of killer app features to expand into roles uniquely exploited by its immersive hardware. One potential example in media is the experience of being at a concert or in front of a DJ or at a music festival or right on the field of a sporting event.

Perhaps you couldn't attend because it was far away, or months ago, or you had some disability that prevented you from being there in person. With Vision Pro, you can experience such commercial events either live remotely, or recorded as a memory you can virtually be inside. Many live experiences don't fully translate into a televised broadcast, which you notice when you have the opportunity to right in the action.

3D in 2D
A 2D representation of Vision Pro immersion doesn't quite communicate the feeling



Some of today's iOS or iPad apps won't make an effective transition to Vision Pro. Clearly games will, as well as titles such as dating apps or virtual shopping apps that take you right to a merchant or inside of a property for sale or rent. You could visit a dealership and virtually kick the tires of a car that isn't for sale near you.

It's noteworthy that Apple pioneered early efforts to bring objects and 3D scenes to the Mac desktop with Quicktime VR back in the early 1990s. At the time, there wasn't today's App Store infrastructure or ubiquitous network connectivity to commercially exploit this capability. There sure is today.

In the area of communications, with Vision Pro you can speak to far away family members as if they are right there in the room. You can share the feeling of three dimensional memories as if you were watching from an angel's distance. Join a professional meeting and rather than being partitioned into Zoom squares, you're right there discussing subjects and seeing important facial cues and able to share your view of VR objects and scenes.

The most killer of apps? I think the core reason for many early adopters to spring for the initial model will ostensibly be a combination of collaborative work documents and AR FaceTime on expense reports, but will really be the immersive nature of relaxing to watch a spatial movie experience or to virtually arrive at a rave to other cultural experiences when you're too sick or perhaps too old to join in reality.

For these users, $3,500 will be money easily invested in a new platform from the established leader in mobile apps, media and communications, particularly one that has taken a strong public stance on protecting the privacy and security of its users. Google and Facebook tried to listen to your phone's microphone to harvest data on what you're doing. Would you trust ad firms to know what you're looking at? They're user exploitation firms, not secure device sellers.

The next question: how long can Apple deliver an unassailable lead in immersive experience headgear before the low price hardware makers and surveillance advertising firms rush in to try to compete on price with cheaper, less functional hardware and bundled spyware and ads designed to subsidize their discount? I'll take a look in an article next week, but share your ideas in the comments below.

Read on AppleInsider

watto_cobrajwdawsodeadringer
«13

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 50
    I have no idea if this kind of thing is Apple's "target market" or not but here we go...

    I think this field in general will explode for the training realm. I'm not into gaming and hardly ever watch a movie.

    I fix locomotives for a major railroad.

    A month ago I was in a class for the newest class of diesel locomotives. It was a two-week class, because these units are incredibly complex. A week or so before the class, I spent a day going through most of the class tasks with a VR headset. I think the ones we used were Oculus if I recall. It was a VR headset and a controller for each hand. I was able to go through a pretty realistic environment to remove and replace various locomotive components all in VR. It was very well done. Myself and others in the class were literally turning virtual wrenches, using virtual power tools, and so on. And we could do it SAFELY!!! Some of these components carry significant risk. We're talking 25,000 psi fuel pressure (no, that is not a typo). And 19,000 psi of tension force on piston components.

    In the VR world, I could go through those tasks multiple times, SAFELY, until I was comfortable with it, without worrying about a mistake maiming or killing me.

    Translate this to the world of medicine for instance. Imagine a surgeon being able to practice surgery in VR without needing a cadaver. Or a paramedic responding to a nasty car crash and mangled patients and doing the training all in VR.

    This type of thing is where I believe the future of VR is headed.
    tenthousandthingsAfarstarbadmonkMisterKithypoluxabaconstangmattinozmaasjwatto_cobratechangelist
  • Reply 2 of 50
    the killer app, in my case, visionOS on AR by itself
    9secondkox2watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 3 of 50
    Please provide more knowledge on the subject. The comparisons with Hololens and 3DTV clearly show that there is a lack of expertise on the subject! Please upload articles where you can read that the writer is familiar with XR and especially spatial computing!

    9secondkox2hammeroftruth
  • Reply 4 of 50
    A remarkably wordy article that ultimately doesn't answer the question its title poses.  What is the point, really, in stating that the killer app will use features X, Y, or Z in Vision Pro?  Isn't it obvious that this is the reason Apple put those features into the Vision Pro?

    The article does mention use cases such as  the possibility of  immersive attendance to live events.  But isn't the point of attending a live event that you're there 'live' with thousands of fellow attendees?  It's a social thing!  How many people would give up this social aspects of attending an event - and pay $3,500 for the 'privilege'?  It's a pretty dystopian scenario, if you ask me.    The same goes for the argument that the Vision Pro replaces a large-screen TV - it conveniently forgets that watching TV is, for many, a social activity.  No, we don't have watch parties every day, but most couples or families watch the news, TV shows or movies together.  A single $3.5k Vision Pro can't provide the same experience as a $1k large screen TV in that regard.  And I don't think anyone would buy multiple VPs to have everyone in the family sitting isolated on the couch.  Seems even lonelier than today's reality, where people are in the same room, but everyone's absorbed by the content of their smartphones.  But at least with smartphones, it's a simple movement of the head to begin interaction with another human.

    Don't get me wrong - I'm a strident believer in the future of AR.   But AR will only become a mass market success when it no longer interferes with human interactions.  Goggles on your head definitely don't do the trick.  I think Apple jumped the shark with this AR "wannabe" VR headset.  I'm not sure why developers - especially small ones - would write software, i.e. potential killer apps, for it when Apple has given no timeline for a device (the vaunted AR glasses) that will have mass market appeal and thus provide a return on their investment.
    edited December 2023 williamlondon9secondkox2baconstangdewmemuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 5 of 50
    This is really the developer preview generation at this point, but I think the new input methods with gestures and eye tracking will be more important than immersive features to drive adoption as this platform moves forward. The immersive features might be what keeps people on the platform. It is like going back to an SD screen after you used HD.

    If Apple were to figure out how to bring gestures and eye tracking to the Mac without a headset then they would really have a compelling product that everyone would be ready for now.
    edited December 2023 maasjwatto_cobraAlex1Njony0
  • Reply 6 of 50
    Rogue01Rogue01 Posts: 143member
    There won't be a killer app because it runs iPadOS apps.  You can mirror a Mac, but it can't run those apps.  No one will buy this, especially in today's economy when most are barely making it paycheck to paycheck.  It starts at $3500, but most would need the expensive prescription lenses.  VR has been around since the early 90s and it still hasn't gained any traction.  Just like 3DTV came and went...no one wanted to wear glasses.  It is socially isolating, even worse with goggles on.  Like Twolf2919 said, going to a live event is the excitement of being there in person and seeing the event live with your own eyes.  Not watching TV with a headset and pretending you are there.  Apple made this device, but there was not a 'problem' to be fixed, like there was with the iPhone and prior 'smartphones'.  Apple has made some products in the past that failed, and Apple corrected those mistakes by killing them off quickly (iPod HiFi and Power Mac G4 Cube, as an example).
    williamlondonbaconstangsternapples53
  • Reply 7 of 50
    Unfortunately, this article is an example of the VP problem. 

    If you need miles and miles of text to evangelize the product and “explain” why all the stuff thrown at the wall is somehow collected into a killer app, then none exists. “Oh, the killer app is everything all together!” Nope. Sorry. Doesn’t work like that. 

    This has been the problem even in internal testing. Apple’s own staff had concerns. Now, outside of fanboys or developer evangelists,  it’s a big question mark and rightly so. 

    Downplaying customer price concerns over a non essential product is also troublesome - especially during inflation. 

    The VP HAS POTENTIAL and can become something great - if Apple can figure out why they made it to begin with. 

    So far, they’ve simply just built a better headset. Will it be enough to actually become a viable “platform?” We will know in two years, after the initial early adopter phase is over. 
    bonobobbaconstangmattinozmiiwtwoAlex1Nsternapples53muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 8 of 50
    twolf2919 said:
      I think Apple jumped the shark with this AR "wannabe" VR headset. 
    You gotta love these doomsayer pronouncements for a product that has yet to be released. Not to mention that virtually every Apple hit product has been met with similar derision along the way. I don't know if Apple's VisionPro will be a success. What I do know, with absolute certainty, is that counting out any new and highly ambitious Apple product--especially before it's released--is a fool's game. Their batting average when it comes to home runs is incredibly high. That doesn't happen by accident. They're not just lucky. Even after it's launched, it sometimes takes a while for a new Apple product to develop into a smash success--its future isn't apparent at the beginning. The Watch and Airpods are recent examples -- both were somewhat flawed products at launch that are now #1 in world sales, by far, for watches and earphones. The beauty of Apple is that when they do launch something, they're in it for the long game. 
    edited December 2023 williamlondonbadmonkStrangeDays9secondkox2MisterKitwatto_cobralolliverjwdawsoAlex1Njony0
  • Reply 9 of 50
    No need for a “killer app”.
    My current display doesn’t need a use case beyond provide a way for me to see information I can interact with. I just want it to display data appropriately. Deliver the user interface. 
    I’m not sure why this device is so confounding. It’s just a really cool display. One that will allow creative people to develop unique experiences but it’s still just a display. Frankly, being able to work with files in a “Minority Report” esque 3D space is enough for me. But then again, I don’t struggle with screen time issues. I look at a screen until I don’t. I don’t live by my phone, tablet or watch. I just use them and put them down. This $3,500 monitor will be the same: play a game, watch a movie, shop etc. Perhaps I’m in the wrong community to state something I see as obvious but all these toys are just distractions that should only take up a few hours of anyone’s day. If one can pay $3,500 for something that has the sole utility of being “fun”, then enjoy it. I have no problem paying that much for a bike, kayak or whatever. Those are fairly limited in terms of “killer” features. However, as game consoles get more expensive (yet nothing near what this thing will cost) I recoil. No way I’m paying over $500 for a box so I can then pay $100 per AAA games plus a never ending monthly sub just to use the core features. I guess my point here is: it’s all relative.
    CPG costs in relation to real income is absurdly out of control as it is. I highly doubt many “average” consumers will shell out $3,500 just like I won’t pay $2k for Studio Display with nano-textured glass.
    But to assume this tech won’t shrink down to eyeglasses or even contact lenses and at that point as many people as have adopted the pocket computers we call iPhone won’t onboard is just nearsighted.
    It may well bring a dystopia for some and utopia for others but unless we wipe our species off the planet, this UX will become dominant within a decade. Maybe by then the “killer app” will have revealed itself. 
    9secondkox2watto_cobraAlex1N
  • Reply 10 of 50
    As someone who has used VR devices for years at this point, starting with the original PSVR to devices with full body tracking and even purchased the new PSVR, I still find my best use case is shorter, interactive games.  You will not want to work all day using a VR/AR headset, at least not with the current sizes/weights and the fact that it has to be tightly strapped to your head.  PlayStation currently has the most comfortable implementation, a halo that puts the weight on the top of your head vs compressing the device against your face.  Even with that, I generally don't want to wear it for any extended sessions.  I would not want to watch a movie, work all day, or walk around with this device on my head.  

    That's not to say I don't see a benefit outside of gaming.  I think AR has massive potential in training, in 3d design, and other places.  What I see in the Vision Pro is implementing either the best or near best specs out of any headsets and combining it with the best ecosystem.  It is a first step, and I am excited about the display technology and the interoperability.  But I don't think the display, batteries and general tech are at a point where this is truly targeting a consumer market(outside of early adopters).  This is a VR headset with high quality/low latency  AR passthrough which is awesome, but I don't think its a big enough leap forward at this point to truly move the market.  Though I will be happy to be wrong, I will be sitting this one out until at least 2nd or 3rd gen.  
    9secondkox2watto_cobraAlex1Npana_zyde
  • Reply 11 of 50
    1348513485 Posts: 332member
    andyring said:
    I have no idea if this kind of thing is Apple's "target market" or not but here we go...

    I think this field in general will explode for the training realm. I'm not into gaming and hardly ever watch a movie.
    .
    This type of thing is where I believe the future of VR is headed.
    Yes, I think so, too, at least in the beginning. That locomotive thing sounds fantastic.
    tenthousandthingsbaconstangwatto_cobraAlex1Njony0
  • Reply 12 of 50
    tundraboytundraboy Posts: 1,882member
    twolf2919 said:
    ... I think Apple jumped the shark with this AR "wannabe" VR headset.  I'm not sure why developers - especially small ones - would write software, i.e. potential killer apps, for it when Apple has given no timeline for a device (the vaunted AR glasses) that will have mass market appeal and thus provide a return on their investment.
    In 25 plus years of following Apple closely in the pundit space, I think they have "jumped the shark" at least 4 times.  The Pod, the Phone, the Pad, the Watch, and yet here they are still.  Unexplainedly alive and keeping and the most successful tech company in the universe.  Here comes Vision Pro now and darn it, they're water skiing over it again.

    The Vision Pro isn't for everyone.  It is a niche product, Apple knows it's a niche product.  But they need to release one to start exploring the headset product space and what it needs to offer if it is to be successful.  For sure they know it needs to be lighter and less bulky.  Few people enjoy having a barnacle stuck on their face.  Obviously the tech isn't there yet but offering a timeline on that is a fool's game for two reasons: First, technological advancements are not that easy to predict --fusion power has been 'just around the corner' for at least 30 years now.  Second, and this problem weighs more on Apple's decision making, even if they have a firm grasp on when the lightweight headset will be realized, announcing a timeline amounts to  telling your potential customers "Don't buy this one, wait a couple of years."  How stupid is that?  

    There is no guarantee that Apple will get Vision Pro right but it wasn't until around iPod 4 when sales started to reach mass market levels, likewise around iPhone 4 or 5 for iPhone.  It will take a few more years for Vision Pro to catch on, if it ever catches on.  But if I'm laying a wager on who is going to succeed in making a headset computer a mass market product, I'd say the best bet would be Apple.


    StrangeDaysbaconstangwatto_cobralolliverjwdawsoAlex1Njony0
  • Reply 13 of 50
    Rogue01 said:
    There won't be a killer app because it runs iPadOS apps.  You can mirror a Mac, but it can't run those apps.  No one will buy this, especially in today's economy when most are barely making it paycheck to paycheck.  It starts at $3500, but most would need the expensive prescription lenses.  VR has been around since the early 90s and it still hasn't gained any traction.  Just like 3DTV came and went...no one wanted to wear glasses.  It is socially isolating, even worse with goggles on.  Like Twolf2919 said, going to a live event is the excitement of being there in person and seeing the event live with your own eyes.  Not watching TV with a headset and pretending you are there.  Apple made this device, but there was not a 'problem' to be fixed, like there was with the iPhone and prior 'smartphones'.  Apple has made some products in the past that failed, and Apple corrected those mistakes by killing them off quickly (iPod HiFi and Power Mac G4 Cube, as an example).
    “You can mirror a Mac, but it can't run those apps.” Agreed. Running macOS apps could be the “killer app” for me, although I appreciate the specialized training potential as noted in Reply 1 by Andyring. Is that market large enough and will Vision Pro headsets offer sufficient value to that market? I’m cheering for Apple while waiting for further light.
    baconstangwilliamlondonwatto_cobraAlex1N
  • Reply 14 of 50
    badmonkbadmonk Posts: 1,265member
    Great article DED that puts the VisionPro in the context of Apple’s history and love reading the comments that always follow, even from the anti-Apple trolls.

    We live in a time of $1000 Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Hamilton and sporting tickets.  Unlike the former, the latter prompts as much attention in part from gambling.

    In this context having an ideal view of entertainment makes sense (though some in this forum will doubt it).  

    I still think that Apple’s media and sports forays will play a big role.  I took the train to Miami and discovered that Miami will host the World Cup in 2025 and Apple has its foot in the door in this regard.

    Apple always thinks five steps ahead, I am sure if Apple has access to these games, VR/AR is going to be playing a big role.  And bros don’t mind having silly stuff on their heads.
    watto_cobraradarthekatlolliverjwdawsoAlex1Njony0
  • Reply 15 of 50
    As someone who has used VR devices for years at this point, starting with the original PSVR to devices with full body tracking and even purchased the new PSVR, I still find my best use case is shorter, interactive games.  You will not want to work all day using a VR/AR headset, at least not with the current sizes/weights and the fact that it has to be tightly strapped to your head.  PlayStation currently has the most comfortable implementation, a halo that puts the weight on the top of your head vs compressing the device against your face.  Even with that, I generally don't want to wear it for any extended sessions.  I would not want to watch a movie, work all day, or walk around with this device on my head.  

    That's not to say I don't see a benefit outside of gaming.  I think AR has massive potential in training, in 3d design, and other places.  What I see in the Vision Pro is implementing either the best or near best specs out of any headsets and combining it with the best ecosystem.  It is a first step, and I am excited about the display technology and the interoperability.  But I don't think the display, batteries and general tech are at a point where this is truly targeting a consumer market(outside of early adopters).  This is a VR headset with high quality/low latency  AR passthrough which is awesome, but I don't think it’s a big enough leap forward at this point to truly move the market.  Though I will be happy to be wrong, I will be sitting this one out until at least 2nd or 3rd gen.  
    Pretty much. Yet, Apple didn’t design this for gaming, strangely enough. 

    The reality is that it would have been much better designed as a companion - extending the feature set of your Mac or iOS device. It would then be affordable, have amazing battery life, not requiring a brick strapped onto you,  and would be a better platform with better support due to install base. 

    Apple has airplay, airdrop, etc and they secure it with their own silicon. Why these haven’t been leveraged at the foundational level for this product is mind boggling. 

    There are certainly use cases where a very few number of people would get professional benefit by doing things like exploring a 3D version of a real life noun by virtually expanding and walking through it. But not in a mass market effective way. And as you said, gaming would really be the thing. Gamers would grow weary of a thing strapped to their heads after a while, but that could be turned into a Paul’s-a fitness and health benefit if you will - as it forces the user to take s break. Perhaps a notification that you need to go for a 15-30 minute walk or something. 

    Other than that, the VP really struggles to make a case for itself. Even wall-of-text articles like the above  do nothing to help sell it. 

    Perhaps once Apple distills this tech into a pair of decently affordable sunglasses we can have this conversation again. So far, others are beating Apple to the punch - and that’s a shame. 

    While even tiny startups are into the next phase, Apple is over here still building a more powerful V1 oculus. 

    C’mon Apple. We love how stubborn you are when it comes to eschewing martket nonsense and pressing in to build the best thing. But this is not that. This is more like Forstall pushing Maps before it was ready and lacking the humility to admit it was a mistake afterward. 

    Let’s get back to humble, scrappy, polished Apple that knows how to say “no” a thousand times before getting to that just-right “yes.”
    canukstormAlex1N
  • Reply 16 of 50
    You would be dense to bet against anything that makes porn that much better…

    Viagra? Oh barely got its sales up at all… Yeee, this one is a slam dunk.


    This is a krass point, but it is very much the truth of it all, denying human natures influence on something like this is short sighted. And if it is true for one thing, it is true for a myriad of other things.

    I have a painting program in quest 2 that is better then photoshop by miles. Why? it is like painting in real life. The brush acts like a real brush. With better processing and fidelity it will be even better.

    I don’t care to defend AR or VR anymore, I dont care what other people think. I know I will find a use for it.

    Tech is lining up the next few years to make AR/VR crazy good and compress the package by alot.
    edited December 2023 9secondkox2watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 50
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 15,267moderator
    twolf2919 said:
    The article does mention use cases such as  the possibility of  immersive attendance to live events.  But isn't the point of attending a live event that you're there 'live' with thousands of fellow attendees?  It's a social thing!  How many people would give up this social aspects of attending an event - and pay $3,500 for the 'privilege'?  It's a pretty dystopian scenario, if you ask me.    The same goes for the argument that the Vision Pro replaces a large-screen TV - it conveniently forgets that watching TV is, for many, a social activity.
    There is an atmosphere with live events that would be missing in the virtual world (no touch/smell/temperature/food) but live events have downsides too. Venues have limited space and most people are located far from the action:



    Not everyone can travel internationally to get to the venue (plane ticket + venue ticket + hotel = $2k+). Venues can put a 4K/8K camera up with a 360 view in a good location and the feed can stream to millions of people who would be able to independently look around. This isn't unique to Vision Pro but it has the best visuals and tracking so it will feel more like being there.

    I think digital humans will be a good feature of this device. Photoreal characters will be able to walk around in the same room with realistic voices:



    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JruKb-Zeze8

    Couple this with generative AI and it will be possible to interact with a digital human. The character can also be controlled by someone remotely.

    For video content, people watch TV together but in a cinema the lights are out. Plus Vision Pro is mixed reality so you still see people around you. It's also fully 3D, unlike TV or cinema.

    ARKit has been used for a few demos with iOS devices but you have to hold the device to see what's going on, this will be using hands on Vision Pro:



    It's expensive for multiple people to have these just now. If Vision Pro was $1k or less, a lot of people would be less skeptical about its usefulness. A family of 4 can each have an iPad for under $1,500 total vs $14,000 for a Vision Pro each. If it was more affordable, a family could watch a virtual 3D cinema in their home.

    It's not clear yet how well Vision Pro will suit kids, headsets are quite bulky on them and they break things easily:



    Even a $500 headset getting smashed on the ground is expensive let alone $3500. The price will come down as the component cost comes down and I think the most popular use case will be movies primarily and then games, fitness, digital humans (OnlyFans, fashion, conversation etc) and virtual events.

    The sunglasses form factor would be more comfortable for most people but this would lose out on image quality, not be able to do opaque surfaces properly:



    I expect these devices will aim to improve quality to rival headsets while headsets try to reduce bulk and cost. By around 2026 all of these devices will be converging into a comfortable, affordable, high quality wearable.
    jwdawsoAlex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 50
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 2,680member
    Unfortunately, this article is an example of the VP problem. 

    If you need miles and miles of text to evangelize the product and “explain” why all the stuff thrown at the wall is somehow collected into a killer app, then none exists. “Oh, the killer app is everything all together!” Nope. Sorry. Doesn’t work like that. 

    This has been the problem even in internal testing. Apple’s own staff had concerns. Now, outside of fanboys or developer evangelists,  it’s a big question mark and rightly so. 

    Downplaying customer price concerns over a non essential product is also troublesome - especially during inflation. 

    The VP HAS POTENTIAL and can become something great - if Apple can figure out why they made it to begin with. 

    So far, they’ve simply just built a better headset. Will it be enough to actually become a viable “platform?” We will know in two years, after the initial early adopter phase is over. 
    Exactly.  this is a great clip by Tony Fadell regarding the creation of the iPhone.

    https://x.com/StartupArchive_/status/1724436089790661041?s=20
    9secondkox2williamlondon
  • Reply 19 of 50
    andyring said:
    I have no idea if this kind of thing is Apple's "target market" or not but here we go...

    I think this field in general will explode for the training realm. I'm not into gaming and hardly ever watch a movie.

    I fix locomotives for a major railroad.

    A month ago I was in a class for the newest class of diesel locomotives. It was a two-week class, because these units are incredibly complex. A week or so before the class, I spent a day going through most of the class tasks with a VR headset. I think the ones we used were Oculus if I recall. It was a VR headset and a controller for each hand. I was able to go through a pretty realistic environment to remove and replace various locomotive components all in VR. It was very well done. Myself and others in the class were literally turning virtual wrenches, using virtual power tools, and so on. And we could do it SAFELY!!! Some of these components carry significant risk. We're talking 25,000 psi fuel pressure (no, that is not a typo). And 19,000 psi of tension force on piston components.

    In the VR world, I could go through those tasks multiple times, SAFELY, until I was comfortable with it, without worrying about a mistake maiming or killing me.

    Translate this to the world of medicine for instance. Imagine a surgeon being able to practice surgery in VR without needing a cadaver. Or a paramedic responding to a nasty car crash and mangled patients and doing the training all in VR.

    This type of thing is where I believe the future of VR is headed.

    I would second this. I think too this niche market will explode over time within the tech, medical fields etc., for safe, realistic training usage.
    baconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 50
    When the iPhone launched I’d been working in a web dev agency for years. I remember saying to my boss in 2005 that I wanted the real internet in my pocket not this cut-down mobile alternative, almost text version, of websites that was de rigueur at the time. The iPhone and iPad solved that problem, they made greater and more personal access to media a reality.

    The problem that the VP will solve, for me, is also greater and more personal still, access to media.

    Immersion like live events. I wanted to go to PowerTrip festival this year but couldn’t - I would have paid a good chunk of money to have access to a great stream into a personal VP device at home. Yes it wouldn’t be the same but it would have still been great, I would get a better view not have to put up with the a-holes who hold a mobile phone up in front of you blocking your view, and be much closer to the action. This single stream could of course be sold to a thousand people at once, I’m sure it could make a lot of money. I wouldn’t be surprised if major events go this route for general access and it will cost far, far more to attend in person.

    You can bet Kiss and ABBA will be embracing the technology when they see how much money they can make with their digital avatars.

    Immersion like FaceTime video in 3d, I bet Apple can solve the issue of removing the headset from the image of the person wearing it whilst retaining the 3D video to that same person. 3D TV failed due to the size of the displays imho, I love 3D but on a small screen like an 65” TV it’s just not worth it. on my 120” wide home cinema it’s far superior to 4K due to the immersion, again imho. 

    I think when people experience 3D videos in VP they will start to think it’s like time-travel due to the immersion - it will get emotional folks. You just know that in time the technology will exist for these previously recorded videos to be recreated by the computer as an interactive version, maybe at first the digital avatars will be able to wave or smile back at you but the technology will continue to push the boundaries. We currently have Personal Voice, but in time we will have Personal Video and our ancestors will be able to talk to digital versions of earlier generations.

    The great thing is Apple just needs to keep going, and see it as a process and they can afford to keep ahead of the curve, making things more personal and more immersive.  

    I remember making interactive training CD-ROMs in the 90s, so yes VR will improve this area but the resolution/quality has to be there. I went to a VR experience recently - they were using Quest devices and to be honest it felt retro as the resolution was so poor. VP will not have this problem.  

    jwdawsoAlex1Nwatto_cobra
Sign In or Register to comment.