Apple Vision Pro Review Roundup

Apple has lifted the embargo on the first wave of non-curated reviews of its Vision Pro headset, and the results are somewhat surprising. The initial “high” experienced upon first impressions, where reviewers laud the headset’s “incredibly impressive displays” and “near perfect” tracking capabilities, has waned. In real-world conditions outside of Apple’s heavily-regulated demos, the Vision Pro appears to suffer from limited productivity usecases, DRM’d apps, and half-baked features that suggest this device is still very much in the dev-kit stage. Above all, however, is the isolation experienced when using the Vision Pro. It offers very few options for wearers to socialize and share memories with one another in any meaningful way. Tim Cook may be right when he said headsets are inherently isolating.

“You’re in there, having experiences all by yourself that no one else can take part it,” concludes Nilay Patel in his review for The Verge. “I don’t want to get work done in the Vision Pro. I get my work done with other people, and I’d rather be out here with them.”

These are some of our favorite reviews of the Apple Vision Pro:

– The Verge: Apple Vision Pro review: magic, until it’s not

– The Wall Street Journal: Apple Vision Pro Review: The Best Headset Yet Is Just a Glimpse of the Future

– Washington Post: Apple’s Vision Pro is nearly here. But what can you do with it?

– Tom’s Guide: Apple Vision Pro review: A revolution in progress

– CNET: Apple Vision Pro Review: A Mind-Blowing Look at an Unfinished Future

– CNBC: Apple Vision Pro review: This is the future of computing and entertainment

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Apple Vision Pro Will Launch With 3D Movies From Disney Plus

Apple has announced several new experiences launching with their upcoming Vision Pro spatial computing headset, including 3D content from Disney Plus. “Other apps announced with Vision Pro support include ESPN, MLB, PGA Tour, Max, Discovery Plus, Amazon Prime Video, Paramount Plus, Peacock, Pluto TV, Tubi, Fubo, Crunchyroll, Red Bull TV, IMAX, TikTok, and MUBI,” reports The Verge, noting that Netflix’s existing app “will work unmodified on Apple’s new headset.” From the report: The announcement lists some of the movies that will be in 3D, and naturally, Avatar: The Way of Water is among them. But Vision Pro owners will also get 3D versions of movies like Avengers: Endgame, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Encanto. The movies will be available to rent through the Apple TV app, and the company says that anyone who has already bought the movies will now get 3D versions without paying extra. Otherwise, “more titles, including those available exclusively to Disney Plus subscribers, will be announced at a later date.”

Among the four screening environments for Disney Plus subscribers, one is called the Disney Plus Theater, which the company says takes inspiration from Hollywood’s El Capitan Theatre, as well as others based on Pixar’s Monsters, Inc., the fictional Avengers Tower from Marvel Avengers films, and one set in the cockpit of a landspeeder sitting in Star Wars’ Tatooine desert. Besides Disney content, Apple mentioned the Apple TV app will have some free “immersive entertainment” that includes Alicia Keys: Rehearsal Room and a film from Planet Earth producers called Prehistoric Planet Immersive. The $3,499 Vision Pro headset will start shipping on February 2nd. Pre-orders begin January 19th at 8AM ET.

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Apple’s VR Headset Might Run Tweaked Versions of iPad Apps

Apple’s long-rumored VR / AR headset might run adapted versions of iPad apps, according to a new report from Bloomberg. The mixed reality device’s new interface will also apparently let users access “millions” of already-available apps on the App Store. And the headset’s apps might not be the only thing that might remind you of the iPad; the Home Screen and Control Center will apparently look like the iPad’s as well, Bloomberg says. The Verge reports: Here are some of the apps you can expect, according to Bloomberg:

– Apple is working on “optimized” versions of apps like Safari and many of the core apps you might already be familiar with from an iPhone, including “Apple’s services for calendars, contacts, files, home control, mail, maps, messaging, notes, photos and reminders, as well as its music, news, stocks and weather apps.”
– There will be headset versions of FaceTime and Apple TV with features that “will look similar to their iPad counterparts.”
– Apple is apparently testing a camera app, which could let you take pictures using its many rumored cameras.
– You’ll be able to read books in VR with Apple Books and meditate with an app.
– A headset-compatible version of its new Freeform app could let you collaborate with others in mixed reality.
– Freeform won’t be the only productivity app: the headset will also apparently support Pages, Numbers, Keynote, iMovie, and GarageBand.
– Apple wants to make watching sports a “richer experience,” which could utilize technology it acquired when it bought NextVR.
– Gaming will “be a central piece of the device’s appeal.” (That feels like a smart decision.)

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Apple Is the One Big Tech Company Without a Clear ChatGPT Strategy

The global excitement around ChatGPT, and the haste to copy it, resembles the introduction of an Apple product. Everyone is stoked to try it, and other tech companies are working late nights to reverse engineer it. This time, Apple is nowhere to be found. Has the speed of it all caught the world’s most influential tech company by surprise? From a report: Microsoft has poured $10 billion into OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT, and reconfigured how it builds server farms to accommodate more of Nvidia’s class-leading processors for training artificial intelligence. Alphabet’s Google has made responding to ChatGPT a top priority. Amazon has also jumped into the fray with its cloud division. That’s four of the world’s top seven most valuable companies, and yet, the most valuable of them all seems to have no ready answer for what’s coming. Bloomberg reported on an internal AI summit Apple held in February, when machine learning and other deployments of the tech across Apple products were discussed, but there was no hint of anything in the genre of generative AI.

AI in Apple products today is like irrigation for its walled garden, essential and helpful for an increasing number of functions, but ultimately it’s the hardware fruit that Apple sells. Generative AI could come in like a tidal wave. Apple, by all appearances, squandered the lead it established since becoming the first big tech company to make an AI-powered voice assistant. Siri was clearly flawed from the start, but it looks ancient by the standards of ChatGPT. To compete in this new AI race, companies need massive, bespoke computational clusters that cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Cloud services are not Apple’s strongest suit right now, as its chief for that division is leaving, and iCloud has been the subject of lament in this very newsletter. The company is investing significant resources in the augmented-reality headset we expect to debut in June and the long-mooted, capital-intensive automotive initiative.

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