February 9, 2024
The long-awaited Apple Vision Pro has been available for a week. Here are some early impressions and implications for enterprise end users:
General consensus among early users is that Vision Pro is a technical marvel and incredibly intuitive to use. As one reviewer wrote, “of course” you just look at an app and tap your fingers to open it and “of course” a floating Connect button automatically appears above your MacBook Air or Pro–simply tap your fingers and watch as your desktop pops into your field of view.
The eye and hand tracking are accurate and reliable and the gesture controls for scrolling, zooming, etc. quick to master. A clever feature is the dual use of the Digital Crown to adjust both the level of immersion and the volume depending on where you look.
The headset looks and feels “premium,” with many saying it’s the best video passthrough yet. But while the dual micro-OLED displays provide higher fidelity, they’re also one of the reasons the Vision Pro is so pricey.
Conclusion: A frictionless user experience is what Apple is known for and a ‘definite plus’ over rival headset vendors, especially for existing Apple device users. Apps run seamlessly side by side, so even for non-MacBook users the ease of use and clarity of the displays is impressive.
Common complaints about the Vision pro (other than price) include its weight, external battery pack, and Personas. While the Dual Loop band does help distribute the weight better, many are reporting around 30 minutes as their comfort limit for wearing the headset.
One reviewer referred to the battery as an “anchor to the past,” and the word creepy has been used numerous times to describe Personas. Generated by scanning your face with the front of the device, personas are one of the features Apple says it’s improved in the first visionOS update.
Conclusion: Vision Pro just isn’t as comfortable as other headsets and not entirely untethered, making it unsuitable for longer immersive experiences. Different-sized light seals and cushions also make it difficult to share. Thus, it seems the device is intended more for desk-bound office workers and other stationary use cases.
APPLE’S ENTERPRISE PLAY
Morgan Stanley has declared Apple Vision Pro “ripe for enterprise adoption” for applications like training and simulations, marketing including digital showrooms, and remote support in the field. Apple itself has marketed the device as a workplace productivity tool especially for creating an “unlimited desktop” (with access to all your work apps), virtual meetings, and guided work.
In addition to an enterprise-worthy price tag, Vision Pro is getting enterprise-friendly features like DNS encryption, zero trust network, biometric authentication, and more to help businesses deploy and manage the headset at scale. Jamf, “the standard for managing and securing Apple at work,” announced immediate support for Vision Pro and the beta release of visionOS 1.1 (first software update) includes device management.
For knowledge workers who use Apple’s ecosystem of devices and apps on a regular basis, Vision Pro may be the first device to deliver the benefits of XR. At the very least, it will get office workers thinking about elements of their workflow that could move into spatial computing.
While headsets like HoloLens 2, Magic Leap 2, and Quest 3 have found success in industrial use cases, they haven’t much impacted desk-bound workers other than designers. Until now, this category of workers has been largely uninterested in extended reality and even overlooked by XR vendors. Who knows, we may finally see concepts like Citi’s virtual trading desk come true.
As one article put it, “apps make or break hardware” no matter “how compelling the experience.” So, what enterprise Vision Pro apps are available today?
At launch, around 600 apps had been developed specifically for the Vision Pro. The headset may not have Netflix, but some very popular work tools have already been adapted for it and familiar enterprise XR apps are becoming available. Of course, there’s Apple’s Keynote and FaceTime for video meetings. There are also productivity, collaboration, and meeting apps from Microsoft, Cisco, and Zoom:
Zoom for Vision Pro includes new features designed specifically for the headset, including Personas that replicate your face and hand movements and 3D object sharing enabling users to collaborate over RT3D models (coming soon). Cisco’s business conferencing solution Webex also uses Personas to take advantage of Vision Pro’s face and hand tracking capabilities. Users can arrange the other participants across their display, share content windows, and more.
The first wave of Vision Pro owners can utilize Office 365 apps integrated with Microsoft’s Copilot AI assistant. That includes Microsoft Teams (leverages personas to give your avatar your hand and face movements), PowerPoint (create and practice presentations), and Excel (data visualization). CoPilot assists in generating, editing, and summarizing 365 content based on simple prompts.
TeamViewer users wearing Vision Pro can now capture detailed 3D models of equipment to share in real time with remote experts; while Box (online storage) offers new, intuitive ways for Vision Pro users to engage with files like design proposals and blueprints, citing scenarios in retail and construction.
ScopeAR’s WorkLink used by Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin has also come to Vision Pro, as has Taqtile’s Manifest platform. SynergyXR’s immersive training solution and JigSpace, a 3D presentation tool for AR demos and product stories, both make use of Vision Pro’s eye, hand, and voice controls to let you interact more naturally with virtual objects.
OmniPlan, Wildix…more and more enterprise-focused apps are and will become available for Vision Pro in the coming months. These apps will take advantage of Vision Pro’s visual clarity, intuitive user interface, and advanced tracking capabilities to improve meetings, workflows, and in general bring XR to a wider audience of remote workers.
Ultimate desktop may be the ultimate Vision Pro app, at least for first-time XR users. Multiple reviewers have praised the “infinite display” capabilities and ease of MacBook integration, which take multitasking “to a new level.” One described it as a “supersized version of my MacBook desktop in front of me that’s way bigger than my work monitor.”
You can open multiple apps and windows, place them all around you, and make them as big as you want. Vision Pro remembers where you place everything so you can walk and work between rooms and return to your virtual workstation even after taking off the headset. The text is crisp and clear, the eye and hand gestures natural…This is a spatial computer.
While remote desktop isn’t new, for many Vision Pro is their first experience with a heads-up display and thus an entirely new way of working and consuming content. For the 2 billion Apple device users, it’s a new way of using their everyday apps. And it makes sense: As an Apple customer, I can confirm that upon putting on the Vision Pro, I just knew how to operate it.
Already people are writing and editing in the Vision Pro, browsing the web, communicating via Slack, posting on social media, and meeting friends and colleagues–activities I and millions do every day working from home on a MacBook.
Let’s be honest, we’ve all been waiting for Apple to enter the space because only Apple can sell an extended reality headset to consumers. This is largely due to the sophisticated design and frictionless user experience upon which Apple has built its brand. While I don’t think Vision Pro will replace laptops anytime soon, its arrival paves the way for consumer- and white collar-facing apps that have yet to be considered or move beyond experimental.
Is the Apple Vision Pro a must-have for businesses? No, but I do recommend enterprises buy one or two headsets to experiment with, even to get used to the gaze and gesture controls as they’re likely to become the norm as tapping and scrolling on a screen did.
Image source: Apple