Review | I lived inside a Vision Pro for two weeks. Here’s what it was like.

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SAN FRANCISCO — I’ve fallen asleep watching movies on a Vision Pro, the $3,499 face computer Apple released earlier this month.

I watched virtual planes land in Atlanta while listening to air traffic control, then edited a spreadsheet of addresses for wedding invites. I examined a roast through the headset’s cameras, and ate it without stabbing myself.

Take it from me: Life inside this headset is equal parts mesmerizing and messy.

When you get into the groove, using the Vision Pro can feel thrilling. But when things don’t work the way you expect — which in my case was pretty often — you may wonder why you didn’t just use the gadgets you already have.

To see what “spatial computing” could really do for me, I wore the Vision Pro every day for two weeks. Here’s what you should know.

Here’s what you can and can’t do Apple’s new VisionPro

What it’s like to wear the headset for hours

Comfort: I could wear the 1.3-pound Vision Pro for four or five hours before my neck needed a break, but I had to adjust the fit often. (And yes, taking it off is always a relief.) I never felt nauseous, and a colleague prone to motion sickness found the experience surprisingly bearable — but she still started feeling uneasy after 45 minutes.

Navigation: When you open an app, it just floats wherever you stick it in the world around you, even if you walk away. Bring an app close to you, and you can interact with it the way you would on an iPad.

But you’ll also have to get used to navigating with your eyes. For apps you’re not right next to, you can look right at them and put your thumb and index finger together to select something. I’ve watched total novices figure it out instantly — but there’s still a learning curve.

Surrounding yourself with app windows can be helpful, but some may find it overwhelming. (Video: Chris Velazco/The Washington Post)

Frequently, I’ve looked at some something I wanted to select and pinched my fingers, only for nothing to happen. I’ve “clicked” on the wrong thing because elements of an app or webpage were too close together. I’ve even flicked app windows someplace else completely, because I didn’t realize my fingers were touching before I moved my hand.

“Spatial” computing: If the Vision Pro has one purpose, it’s to let you put the content and apps you want to use where you need them. You can have 9 or 10 apps running before the headset starts to struggle, and I’ve spent days trying apps in different places to see what feels useful. Surprisingly, those floating apps were most helpful when dealing with daily drudgery.

I hand-wash dishes a lot, and it’s supremely tedious. But it’s less so when I have a YouTube video floating above my sink, one that I can interact with without drenching my phone or touching my ear buds.

The Vision Pro’s live video feed of the world around you is fast enough to cook with. (Video: Chris Velazco/The Washington Post)

I also always forget about clothes in the dryer. Now, when, I do a load of laundry, I can hang a virtual timer in my hallway as a visual reminder.

And on short afternoon workouts, I kept Slack and my email floating off to my side while (slowly) riding a stationary bike. By spinning a small dial (the “Digital Crown”), I could replace my apartment with a craggy Hawaiian landscape, complete with the sound of a lonely wind. I didn’t even need to reach for another device when someone needed me; I just pulled the app window over with a pinch and went to work.

Silly? Maybe — but now that I’ve tried these things, I really want to keep doing them.

In theory, the Vision Pro can be a portable, private office — just strap in, arrange your work apps, and get to it.

I tried this for a few hours each day, and it’s definitely doable. It helps to pair a Bluetooth keyboard and one of Apple’s trackpads to the headset, since using the built-in virtual keyboard is a chore.

But to get work done fast, I had to lean on the headset’s Virtual Desktop mode, which connects to a nearby Mac and turns its screen into a virtual window you can resize and stick where you like. When I’m editing my photos or tediously formatting all those wedding invite addresses, a big-screen version of my computer surrounded by vast, virtual environments is tough to beat.

On Feb. 2, Apple’s $3,499 Vision Pro headset went on sale. Help Desk reporter Chris Velazco tried the thing to see if it’s worth the hype and the money. (Video: Monica Rodman/The Washington Post)

But even this comes with quirks. If you have an Apple laptop, you just have to look at it — a “Connect” button will appear over the computer. But if you use something like a Mac Mini, or a closed MacBook hooked up to a monitor, the Vision Pro may struggle to find it. (As I sat down to write this article, it took three tries to get the Virtual Desktop working.)

The headset’s super-sharp screens also mean it’s wonderful for just watching things. I missed “Oppenheimer” in Imax earlier this year, but cuing it up on a virtual screen as big as my living room wasn’t a bad alternative. And the sound coming from a set of lump-like speakers was so good that I mostly left my ear buds behind.

You’ll also want to keep the Vision Pro’s battery pack plugged in during longer movies; I generally got between two and three hours of use from a single charge.

These are, arguably, what the Vision Pro is best at right now. The Vision Pro’s App Store could change that in time; for now it’s a funky a blend of the practical (like Microsoft’s Office apps), the gimmicky (like “Day,” which lets you spin VR turntables), and the odd-yet-earnest (like “Xaia,” an immersive AI therapy tool.)

Apple’s new Vision Pro is a privacy mess waiting to happen

People treat you a little differently when you’re wearing a Vision Pro.

Sure, you can see them almost normally through the headset’s cameras. I say “almost” because you’ll see that video feed blur a little while moving your head. (Be careful walking over to them, too, since the headset blocks your peripheral vision.)

But assuming you’re looking right at someone, they may be peering back at a set of hazy digital eyes on the headset’s outer screen. Those “eyes” are powered by the Vision Pro’s still-in-beta “Personas,” your virtual stand-for FaceTime video calls or Zoom meetings.

My traveling fiancée was happy to cut our nightly FaceTime calls short after seeing it.

I was nearly ready to write my Persona off until a friend with a Vision Pro FaceTimed me to catch up. The first half-hour of looking at his faux-face was unnerving. But as the conversation stretched into an hour, and then another, the weirdness had evaporated — it just felt like I was looking at my friend, not some weird facsimile. And he felt the same way.

You can, and probably will, get used to these things. The real question is how fast, and who may avoid you until they get used to it, too.

Unfortunately, the Vision Pro also has a sharing problem.

A Guest User mode lets your friends see what the fuss is about, but two out of three people I’ve tried it with struggled to get through the setup process. (One person put the headset on four times before it even recognized it wasn’t looking at me.)

And no support for multiple users means communal use at home isn’t possible the way it is with a Mac or iPad.

Thankfully, there’s at least one way the Vision Pro can make you feel more connected to others: You can use it to view immersive videos captured with an iPhone 15 Pro, 15 Pro Max, or another Vision Pro. (Don’t worry: You can watch them as normal 2D videos on an iPhone.) They don’t always feel lifelike, but when scenes were captured just right, I felt present — and a little less alone — in moments and with people who weren’t really there.

You probably know you don’t need this right now. It’s bulky, expensive and very much a first-generation product. But it’s also a glimpse at a new way of living with technology; one I think a lot of people could find helpful if they get past some inherent weirdness.

You might want to try it by scheduling a demo at an Apple Store. Better to lose 25 minutes than thousands of dollars.

After these two weeks, I’m sold on what the Vision Pro can do. I want to keep app windows around me in just the right places, shut out the world sometimes when I need some alone time, and pop back in when I’m ready. I just don’t want to wear a hefty headset on my face to be able to do these things, or shell out at least $3,499 for it.



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