Apple Vision Pro: A student’s perspective using Apple’s first ‘Spatial Computer’

Contributing writer A.J. Gugliotta uses his Apple Vision Pro headset to do school work, watch TV and talk to friends simultaneously.
Contributing writer A.J. Gugliotta uses his Apple Vision Pro headset to do school work, watch TV and talk to friends simultaneously.
Peyton McKenzie

What if you could have unlimited screens in front of you whenever you wanted? What if you could finish your homework on massive displays all in the palm of your hand?

Apple introduced a headset called Vision Pro, that’s base price is $3,500, on Feb. 2 that allows all of this to be accomplished.

Vision Pro is, to put it simply, a headset equipped with a blend of augmented reality (a mix of digital and real world displays) and virtual reality (all digital). It is entirely controlled with your eyes, hands and voice, making it an extremely unique headset as no controllers are needed. Apple calls it “spatial computing,” which means that instead of interacting with a physical computer in front of you, the Vision Pro is reacting to the space around you.

Trying this headset on for the first time is nothing short of spectacular. You’re welcomed by the familiar Apple interface that anyone who uses its products would recognize. Apple also built a brand-new operating system from the ground up exclusively for Vision Pro called VisionOS. The Vision Pro App Store has more than 600 native apps on the platform such as Disney+ and Microsoft Word.

Navigating the interface is very different from an iPhone. Simply join two fingers and tap them together to select something while looking at it (the built-in cameras that track your eyes do the rest).

Gugliotta taps his pointer finger to his thumb to interact with the user interface on his Apple Vision Pro headset. (Peyton McKenzie)

The first thing I did was open the Apple TV app, find “Avatar: The Way of Water” and watch as the background dimmed and I was transported to what felt like an actual theater. Seeing the film playback in 3D with eye-popping effects was very immersive. It was mind-blowing.

Ok, that’s cool, but what else can you do? I opened another virtual window next to “Avatar.” Now I had iMessage open next to my movie, playing all virtually in front of me, at the same time.

Typing with the Vision Pro is what you would expect — it’s pretty slow and you’re touching invisible space unless you connect a physical bluetooth keyboard. Luckily there’s Siri, who’s available to send texts, open apps and accomplish everything else Siri can do on other Apple devices.

Now that there were two virtual windows open, I decided to add another. I opened FaceTime and called my friends. I finally saw the true potential of the Vision Pro. I have a movie playing back in 4K resolution. I’m sending texts and making a FaceTime call — all with no lag, all in front of me, wherever I go.

As a film major, I do all my work on a computer. The most appealing aspect of this device is being able to extend my Mac’s display to Vision Pro. Seeing my Mac turn into any size window I want, and still being able to use apps in the Adobe Suite is awesome.

All I have to do is look at my Mac while wearing Vision Pro, and it will connect seamlessly. Vision Pro still lets you use VisionOS while displaying your Mac, which means I’m able to combine both the Mac and Vision Pro operating systems, meaning unlimited multitasking.

The Microsoft Suite also has native apps for the headset, and I can access BlackBoard using Safari. Zoom launched a native app on the device, meaning I can attend all my virtual classes on Vision Pro. But how do other people see my face on a call?

Apple has a solution to this, and it’s called your “Persona.” By scanning the user’s face and capturing facial expressions, it creates a digital avatar of yourself. On FaceTime calls and anytime the device needs the front-facing camera, your digital “Persona” appears. It’s freaky, and it looks like a last-gen video game version of yourself.

From top left, Opinion Editor Michael LaRocca, Gugliotta, Copy Editor Ryan Johanson, Associate Sports Editor Amanda Dronzek and News Editor Alexandra Martinakova join a test Zoom call to showcase the Apple Vision Pro’s “Persona” feature.

While I’m wearing the headset, people in the room around me can see a real-time, AI-generated re-creation of my eyes on the device’s front display. When I’m viewing content, a blue shield joins above my eyes letting outsiders know I’m consuming content. In my testing, the display is pretty poor and it makes it hard to see the user’s eyes. It’s a nice touch but is more unsettling than useful.

One of the best things about the Vision Pro is that I can be in my own personal space no matter where I am. Transporting myself to Yosemite as my virtual background and throwing “The Office” on before bed is very relaxing. I also found myself being able to focus much faster and being more productive. Typically, I fidget with my iPhone when attempting to do my homework on my Mac, but that was not the case with this headset.

A Peacock window displaying “The Office” floats in space within the Apple Vision Pro’s Yosemite “Environment”.

Can this replace a computer or a monitor? Yes, but not right now. The battery attached to the headset only lasts up to around two hours, but can still be used while charging. The weight and strain of this headset is still a huge factor. After a few hours, you’re going to want to take a break. I found myself happy to take it off, but eager to go back to the digital world soon after.

As I finish writing this review, only using the Vision Pro and a keyboard, I think to myself, this is the future. No more physical screens, no more limitations.

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