At Apple’s WWDC event we saw the biggest new product platform for years. As we've posted about previously we see this interface debate as one of three big 'tech tussles' that will define our computing futures. Our team have been following along and giving their perspective. Below we share a snippet of the conversations happening at Loomery towers.
George Kean Proudfoot, Head of Strategy
'Firstly, this felt like a big gauntlet throw down to devs and product teams to me. You had some basic ports of content led apps (with extra immersiveness), some fairly obvious ‘infinite desk-top’ productivity use-cases and an intro to interaction and input differences to iOS. To be discovered: how do you make the most of the infinite canvas? What does the gesture input open up (and close off) in terms of app features and use cases? What does stepping beyond a portrait and landscape frame constraints give you? ... + many more to come I'm sure.
Secondly, there was notably no use of the LiDAR to detect specific objects in your environment and then do AR whizz-bang around them (e.g. ‘turn that chair into a dragon!’ a la Magic Leap launch). Feels like Apple is deliberately constraining with this 2D floating lamina implementation as a bridge into what’s possible in mixed reality.
Finally, at the end, the Loomery team watching were imagining all of the big airlines chomping at the bit to be the first to swap out their in-flight entertainment for these devices (in first class at least for now at that price point 🤑). Don’t think anyone would really say that about other VR / Meta's devices. Why? Perhaps some combo of Apple cache and the fact they’ve gone for a softer implementation of Mixed Reality that’s anchored in the touch screens we’re all familiar with. I can imagine my less techy friends and family 'getting this' quickly, even if the price point will mean not many will go for buying it on launch day.
We'll see if all these choices help to bridge into the next billion+ user product for Apple, or it's more of a damp squib. Fascinating to see the developer tools and enablers that get released now before the hardware for clues on all of the above 🤓'
Tom Holmes, Software Engineer
'I think Vision Pro feels in a lot of ways like the first iPad: it has the potential for being a whole new way we interact with the digital world that is destined to replace the laptop/desktop but for now is limited to being just a consumption device, not much for any kind of productivity.
However, like with the iPad later on this will eventually change and over the next few years and clear use cases will emerge.
I was hoping Apple would show more cool uses for 3D models being used in areas like construction/architecture or even just e-commerce as right now it mainly looks like a better way of experiencing iPad apps, as this, to me, would have been what really sells why we need spatial apps not just as a more luxury way to experience what we already have.
I do think there are a ton of cool use cases down the line that can be created with AR (such as the areas mentioned above), I am definitely looking forward to the SOTU to see what tools and API we can use to build on the platform.
Apple has offered a very flexible framework for creating spatial experiences so I would not be surprised if they came out with a cheaper SE model down the line with just the AR features (not full VR like the Pro model) that is also smaller and lighter.
Spatial media capture is also incredibly cool but like others have said, wearing the headset when playing with your kids or at a family reunion is more than awkward. I would not be surprised if Apple (or a 3rd party) brings out a handheld 3D camera to avoid this, as I have heard that the captured images/videos are incredible.
That all said, I think this device will revolutionise the viewing experience for events like music festivals and sports matches as I am certain media companies will have spatial VR cameras setup for coverage along with a specific subscription tier for the privilege of the 3D viewing experience. There are tons of business cases for creating spatial experiences, both content led and for work.'
Brett Thornton, Founder
'Twenty three years passed between the Mac and the iPhone defining their respective computing paradigms. Sixteen more have passed since then. Today looked and felt like another big moment, and left us with lots of questions.
We saw the first dice roll of a very big bet on what Apple hopes will be a new computing platform (after Personal came Mobile, and now Spatial).
Plenty of potential use cases were thrown against the wall, a little like the Apple Watch announcement in 2014. Just like then I suspect it’ll be a couple of years before we really understand the potential; is this a really, really nice personal home entertainment system (see Disney demo) or is it a new paradigm in personal computing that changes how we work, learn and play?
Notable by its absence tonight was mention of AI. We had lots of talk of 'intelligence', small improvements to features using AI in the background and nods to machine learning but little explicit acknowledgement of the breakthroughs happening outside of the Cupertino bubble.
This sets up a debate that will rumble for the next year and beyond. What will be the more important new computing platform? Augmented and quasi-virtual worlds like the one Apple showed tonight and Meta is betting the house on, or new interaction models fuelled by large language models. Time to get making and find out.'
Tim Checkley, Founder
'In the dying words of Steve Jobs: “Wow”. Sci-fi has arrived. It feels incredibly exciting… and quite Black Mirror.
The value to business was always going to be there: architecture, engineering, better collaboration. Everyone expected 3D gaming. But I was impressed by how strongly Apple pushed the general entertainment appeal. I could absolutely imagine popping a Vision Pro over my head on a long flight (a flight without the kids that is…) and the multi-screen demo from Disney looked incredible. Just imagine being immersed in a Formula 1 race and seeing the lead car’s data, alongside the race.
Other moments that Apple demoed are less believable for me. Why would you wear a Vision Pro whilst packing your suitcase!? The clip of a father wearing a Vision Pro whilst playing with his kids seemed misjudged and didn’t sit right with me. An AR device should be about connecting you with others, not isolating you. A big question that emerges for me here is what’s your cue or trigger to put it on? Beyond a work meeting or the race starting, why do you lift the Vision Pro over your head in the first place?
The technology packed into the headset looks amazing. Big challenges from the Quest 2 for me were the limited field of view and the motion sickness after about 10 minutes. Has Apple solved those two big issues? We’ll see. The cable and battery pack is unfortunate and I wasn’t impressed how Apple barely mentioned it. We’ll look back in five years and laugh about that, won’t we?
Introducing the Vision Pro as a paradigm shift and new generation of computing is a big bet from Apple - but they have a proven history of making a success of devices the public is first cynical about (iPad, Watch). Apple’s skill is creating experiences, with a tight combination of powerful hardware and impressive software, that feel magical. They could have done it again - and I can’t wait to try it.'
Joni Mortimore and Charly Panton, Designers
'What does it mean to design for Vision Pro?
As digital product designers deeply concerned with human behavioural psychology, Charly and I find ourselves exhilarated and intrigued by the thought of designing for Vision Pro. This cutting-edge technology offers a new level of immersion and augmentation, pushing the boundaries of how we perceive ourselves and interact with the world. What we find fascinating is the idea that we can fuse with technology but on our own terms, jumping in and out of the experience so we can live both in the digital and physical world.
The first thing that struck us was Apple's understanding that the digital world cannot replace the physical world and that a device like this can enable an augmented, future forward experience that is pushing the boundaries yet supports human interaction. They have set the bar and a line in the sand to say, this is how you do immersive experiences, let’s not lose what makes us human and go live in the Matrix!
We have no doubt, the impact of Vision Pro on our lives will be profound! It calls for us to embark on a transformative journey, blurring the lines between our organic selves and the realm of machines. Are we on the cusp of becoming human mixed machines, or is it the reverse? It's a question that lingers, igniting our curiosity and challenging our preconceived notions.'
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