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– Written by Yana Lesyk – June 9, 2023

ustwo on the Apple Vision Pro AR headset

Apple’s first spatial computer has been finally unveiled during the WWDC 2023 and we asked ustwo to share their opinion

The highly-anticipated Vision Pro – Apple’s first spatial computer that blends digital and physical – has finally been unveiled during the WWDC 2023. The revolutionary headset features visionOS, the world’s first spatial operating system that allows users to control the three-dimensional interface with their eyes, hands and voice. The ground-breaking display system packs 23 million pixels producing a 4K resolution that makes every experience feel like it’s taking place in real time.

We spoke to our client ustwo – a global digital product studio who has been active in the VR / AR / MR space for almost a decade, designing consumer and business applications for a range of clients and industries – to get their opinion on the Apple Vision Pro.

Are you excited or skeptical about the Apple headset?

Carsten Wierwille, CEO at ustwo studios: In the increasingly sceptical and cynical world of AR/VR/MR, Apple can change the momentum, energising first the creator community and then the public at large. Rather than continuing to complain about the failure of AR/VR/MR product launches, we can experiment with a new device that will be more robust and more integrated than anything else in the market. Just like the initial iPhone and Apple Watch announcement, we should expect initial complaints about price, performance, lack of meaningful applications but this will change over time if Apple sticks with it. The Apple headset will also lead us to places that we cannot yet foresee. This is more of an iterative trial and error than the “big bang launch” than the iPhone represented. We can get the content and use cases right “in the wild” and scale from there.

Juan Cabrera, Technology Principal: I’m right in the middle. I think Apple has the potential to give a significant push to the XR industry. Not many other companies put the effort that Apple does into the user experience of their products. Excited to see what they do on that end. 

On the other hand, my hope for this headset is that they can take a big leap in terms of technology, just like when they did with the first iPhone, the gap between what was in the industry at that time and what they created was immense, but I doubt we are in a place in terms of advancements of technologies that they can do that again. If they can do that, I will be really excited that Apple entered the XR room.

Chris Marotta, Design Principal: In general, I’m excited. It feels like Apple has been building towards this release for a long time with RealityKit, LiDAR, the M series, Memoji and much more. Even multi-tasking on the iPad might hint at how “xrOS” might operate. I’m sceptical about the target audience for this first generation device. If the name is in fact the “Reality Pro” and the price point is around $3000, who are we expecting to use it? I’m not convinced that say, a video or photo editor, is going to find a new MR workflow truly “transcendent.”

Why has the VR/MR/AR category never really taken off?

Steve Caruso, Senior 3D Generalist: The industry’s been spending billions of dollars on making a specific vision a reality: lightweight, fashionable AR glasses. The progress on the way has been ugly and confusing, with uncomfortable headsets, nauseating experiences, inconsistent controls and still no clear reason to put up with it besides gaming and very specific enterprise applications like design visualisation. Consumers haven’t yet seen a device that clearly articulates why you’d use the thing today or how it’s better at something than anything else in their pocket or office.

Juan Cabrera, Technology Principal: I was just at the AWE conference, so I’ve got to see first-hand the state of the XR industry. I think it has already taken off, maybe at a slower pace, but it has. It’s just not as mainstream as smartphones. There is an entire ecosystem of companies creating solutions for the enterprise sector. In terms of the consumer, my bet is on AR, but it is currently super early steps. I can see that in 5 years, AR glasses like XREAL, or Lenovo’s could be used more widely, with many more applications. Qualcomm is making a big push for its platform Snapdragon Spaces, using technologies that are open and more accessible. This will help to push the consumer AR industry forward. I think it’s just a matter of time.

Chris Marotta, Design Principal: How do we define “never really taken off?” Do we mean why isn’t it as big as our phones or laptops? It’s important to remember that the iPhone was not the first smartphone. Blackberry’s had much of the same functionality, however, it was Apple’s brave industrial and user experience design that changed the world forever. I suspect we are in a similar situation now. There are many of us who have experienced amazing things in XR. We want to share those experiences with people, we want people to know how incredible it can be. However, even the die-hards get tired of wearing the big bulky headsets and still long for something more. We long for the experiences that Star Trek and Minority Report (for better or worse) promised us.

Will the Apple Headset change that?

Steve Caruso, Senior 3D Generalist: Apple will benefit from the ecosystem—not just their collection of apps and services, but their ecosystem of casual and professional users that are receptive to new ideas and familiar with the “Apple way” of doing things. That will soften the difficulties that someone like Meta, a company nobody is rooting for, has run up against. Apple has a strong record of bringing great ideas to market—maybe not before anyone else, but with the fewest compromises and a more thoughtful design and purpose behind them. Their interaction model will probably be as different from their competitors’ devices as those systems are from each other, but customers will trust it to work well enough to stick around and probably be adopted by the rest of the industry—remember the iPhone’s notch?

Juan Cabrera, Technology Principal: Definitely. As I said before, I think it’s already taken off, but Apple will help accelerate progress. I can’t think of many other companies that can pair software and hardware as well as they do; they probably have the best user experience in the market. I think this is one of the current missing parts, and I’m confident Apple will help smooth out some of the current bumps in XR development.

Chris Marotta, Design Principal: Yes, however, I don’t think the launch will be as monumental as the iPhone. In some ways, I think we are still “five years away from being five years away” from a truly monumental shift. However, Apple will absolutely accelerate interest and investment in the XR space.

Learn more about ustwo here.