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Mister Icon's thoughts on the Apple Vision Pro

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The Apple Vision Pro has just been released, and it is an interesting time for Apple fans.

This could be a device that changes the way we all ‘do computing’ forever. It could be a disappointment. Or it could be somewhere in between. The reviews are likely to be mixed.

My Take on Apple Vision Pro

If you are a gadget junkie, a tech reviewer and/or someone with a lot of spare money to splash about, then the Apple Vision Pro is bound to be a fun piece of technology to play around with. But for everyone else, I'm not so sure.

Mister Icon wearing a VR headset

It's definitely a device that a lot of thought has gone into, and it clearly has some great features, but I struggle to see how the end result will be much different to the other AR/VR headsets on the market.

When it comes down to it, strapping a headset to your face is an isolating experience that separates you from those around you. And most people don't want that, especially not for an extended period of time.

And whilst Apple has done its best to provide some features designed to minimise the isolation (e.g. the ‘unusual’ EyeSight feature that displays a video reconstruction of the user's eyes on the outside of the headset), personally I don't think it will be enough.

Humans are social beings. We want to share our lives with others, even if we might not always think we do.

Laziness always rules

An even bigger problem likely to face adopters of the Vision Pro is the laziness factor.

Technology that is hard to use or requires too much effort to use, ultimately fails.

People love the iPhone because it is so easy to pick up and use. Need to take a quick photo? Just grab your iPhone and go. Want to check the weather forecast or the latest news? A few quick taps and you have all the information you need.

You just can't do that with devices like the Apple Vision Pro.

You have to make a conscious decision to spend a significant amount of time with the product before you even put it on.

No one is going to strap on a headset just to check the weather report. It's just not worth the effort.

By the time you stick it on your head, adjust the straps, make sure it's sitting right and the battery pack is in your pocket correctly, you could have looked up the weather elsewhere ten times already.

Will I be buying one at launch?

No. I can't even if I want to, as Apple is only releasing the device in the United States for starters. If you live elsewhere in the world, like me, you don't get to join in the fun for now.

But even if I was able to buy an Apple Vision Pro, I don't think I could really justify the purchase. Sadly I don't sell nearly enough Mister Icon apps to be able to spend $3499+ on a new toy. Maybe one day!

My fears for productivity

Sometimes I feel a bit maudlin when I think about the impact technology has had on our society.

Don't get me wrong, technology has definitely had many positive results, but in recent years it seems that more and more societal problems are arising directly because of technology.

Without getting into some of the really dark issues, just consider for a moment the effect modern technology has had on productivity.

Sure, workers can now read business emails on their phones in bed at 3am in the morning. But is that necessarily a good thing? Couldn't another few hours of uninterrupted sleep actually result in a more focused worker for the rest of the day?

And even though there's now nothing stopping us from writing an entire novel on an iPhone if we want to, is that really a wise use of technology?

People often seem to want new devices to do everything their old devices could do, even if their old devices were actually highly effective already.

Take the iPad for instance. I have regularly heard people complain that they want their iPad to be able to run the highly complicated software that they currently run on their Macs. In some cases, companies like Apple have listened to these complaints and brought their Pro-grade software to the iPad. Did you know that you can get professional apps like Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro and even Adobe Photoshop on an iPad these days? It's pretty crazy.

But sometimes I wonder whether this is really a good thing.

If your only device is an iPad, then obviously having quality professional software available to you is wonderful.

But most professionals will already have a desktop or laptop machine to run their professional software. And development of that computer software has probably slowed because of the need to dedicate resources to the tablet software.

Plus I know from experience that doing tasks on an iPad can often simply take so much more time than using a computer.

I wonder how many productive work hours have been lost worldwide from people using the wrong device to try and get work done?

You see the advertisements pushing tablets and phones as replacements for computers—but are they really?

How many people tap away like mad on a tiny on-screen keyboard to write an email, when they could just walk to a computer a few metres away and type the same email on a real keyboard in half the time?

And how many organisations out there have wasted money and doomed their businesses to years of lost productivity by equipping their employees with the latest and greatest iPads with add on keyboard cases and Apple Pencils, when they really should have just given their workers a new MacBook?

A device is only truly useful if it is the correct device for the job.

A hammer is definitely more portable than a nailgun, but if I was getting a new house built, I know which tool I'd like my builder to be using.

Now, as a mobile app developer, you might think it strange that I am so critical of mobile devices.

But it's not that.

I just get a bit annoyed by people who expect their mobile devices to be able to do everything that other devices can already do, and who expect to get the same results regardless of device.

Things just don't work like that.

Mister Icon with an assortment of devices, including a VR headset
Mister Icon trying to decide which electronic device is best for the task at hand

Mobile devices themselves are wonderful and for certain tasks, they are definitely the best devices for the job.

But we have to realise that tradeoffs always exist. And we need to consider those tradeoffs sensibly in all aspects of life.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution.

Even Einstein failed to create a ‘theory of everything’.

Summing up

With all that out of the way, I guess the question is: how will the Apple Vision Pro impact productivity?

And at this early stage, no one really knows for sure. Apple seems to be building up workplace productivity as a key area for Vision Pro use, but again I can't really see this working well.

I fear that devices like the Vision Pro will be adopted by upper/middle management in companies that want to be seen as being hip and progressive, and then they will try to shoehorn the technology into aspects of daily work life that really would be better suited to other devices.

Will the future really consist of workers standing in their home offices every day with a headset strapped on for 8 hours straight, conducting Zoom meetings and twisting their heads back and forth to check on their latest Slack messages from virtual windows hovering above the tastefully bland decorative artworks on their home office walls?

If that's the future then count me out.

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