Looking across YouTube and tech outlets, Apple gave some guests a chance to try the Apple Vision Pro for less than an hour. These lucky attendees experienced some of its wildest features, including immersive interactions with dinosaurs and butterflies, watching a clip of Avatar: The Way of the Water in 3D, and FaceTiming with a live Apple rep.
While all of them were highly impressed with Apple's first-gen product, I kid you not, every single one of the tech influencers I watched used the term "uncanny valley," implying they were creeped out by several Black Mirror-esque features of the Apple Vision Pro.
There's also a common thread among the tech influencers regarding the things hated about Apple Vision Pro: here are the top 3.
1. The Apple Vision Pro is too heavy
All of the journalists and tech influencers who tried on the Apple Vision Pro mentioned that it's far heavier than they imagined it would be. However, when you look at its materials, its heft makes sense.
The Apple Vision Pro primarily consists of laminated glass and aluminum alloy. Other headsets tend to be made out of plastic. As popular tech YouTuber Marques Brownlee pointed out, this isn't because VR companies are trying to be cheap — it's just that plastic is lighter, making it a better solution for rolling out lightweight head-mounted displays.
"It did start feeling a little heavy on my face over time, " tech YouTuber Brian Tong said. "I don't know if I could comfortably watch a two-hour movie in it yet. I'm just not sure."
Overall, comfort seemed to be one of the biggest complaints of the Vision Pro. With some adjustments, you can tweak the weight distribution of the $3,500 headset, but after a while, it still seems to feel quite heavy on your face.
2. The FaceTime 'Persona' is creepy
If you ever get the privilege of securing an Apple Vision Pro for yourself in the future, one of the first things you'll have to do during setup is create something Apple calls a "Persona."
The front sensors will scan your face using an "advanced encoder-decode neural network" to create a digital representation of you that can be used on apps like FaceTime. "This network was trained on a diverse group of thousands of individuals," Apple's VP of Technology Development Group Mike Rockwell said. "It delivers a natural representation, which dynamically matches your facial and hand movement."
It sounds cool on paper, but tech influencers and journalists were totally creeped out when they received a live FaceTime call from an Apple rep, represented as a Persona, during the demo.
For example, tech influencer Mrwhosetheboss commented that Persona felt "uncanny valley kind of weird." Another tech YouTuber, Booredatwork, said, "Persona is a bit weird to me. You can tell it's a simulacrum of someone. It's like a 'higher version' of an Memoji, but it's just weird."
Many had difficulties articulating why they thought it was weird, but it's an awkward feature because, as mentioned at the outset, it runs on a model that's trained by using thousands of other people's idiosyncrasies, so facial expressions and movements from Personas are bound to come across somewhat unnatural and strange.
3. Taking 3D videos at a party sounds weird
I don't really agree with the tech influencers on this one, but high-profile figures like Brownlee and UrAvgConsumer commented that they don't like Apple's suggested use case of using the Apple Vision Pro to take 3D videos at birthday parties and other events.
"There's this nice special event," UrAvgConsumer said, "and you're going to bust out a headset? I don't know. I don't know if I want to do all that."
The Vision Pro is Apple's first 3D camera and it lets you take photos and videos in "remarkable depth," according to the Cupertino-based tech giant. Booredatwork had a more optimistic view of the Apple Vision Pro's 3D camera, adding that his experience with it was Black Mirror-esque, but in a good way. It's as if you can step in and out of an immersive past memory whenever you want.
Although I understand Brownlee and UrAvgConsumer's concerns, I don't think taking a minute or two to capture a 3D video is going to take away from the moment.
Keep in mind that these were minute complaints. By and large, all the tech influencers gushed about the Apple Vision Pro, particularly its incredible eye and hand tracking capabilities. Many commented about how natural and intuitive it felt to navigate visionOS.
Still, they only got to experience the $3,500 headset for a short time. Let's see whether the press continues to have a favorable opinion of the Apple Vision Pro when it ships next year.
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Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!
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