Apple Vision Pro’s biggest problem: It’s highly addictive!


Screenshot of Apple's 'guided tour' of Vision Pro.
The biggest problem with Vision Pro? It makes the real world boring.
Photo: Apple

Apple has a huge problem with the Vision Pro that no one has talked about: It’s highly addictive!

The astonishing visuals that Apple’s new headset pumps directly into your eyeballs make the real world seem dull, according to Nick Bilton, a Vanity Fair reporter who got behind-the-scenes access for a cover story published Thursday.

In fact, Bilton says Vision Pro is “like a drug” that offers a “dopamine hit.” And an unnamed source in Bilton’s story likens the Vision Pro to “tech fentanyl.”

Apple Vision Pro: Totally addictive visuals?

Apple releases the Vision Pro tomorrow, launching the company’s first major new product line in nearly a decade. Apple’s got a lot riding on the mixed-reality headset, and faces some daunting challenges. It’s heavy, it’s expensive, and it’s an attempt to produce a hit in a product category that nobody’s yet been able to crack.

Bilton acknowledges these negatives in his gushing article, but said he realized the biggest problem after using Vision Pro for an extended time. When he took it off, he found himself disappointed that he had to deal with the real world, which looked boring and flat.

So addictive is the Vision Pro experience, it makes devices like the iPhone and high-def TVs looked outdated:

When I take [Vision Pro] off, every other device feels flat and boring: My 75-inch OLED TV feels like a CRT from the ’90s; my iPhone feels like a flip phone from yesteryear, and even the real world around me feels surprisingly flat. And this is the problem. In the same way that I can’t imagine driving a car without a stereo, in the same way I can’t imagine not having a phone to communicate with people or take pictures of my children, in the same way I can’t imagine trying to work without a computer, I can see a day when we all can’t imagine living without an augmented reality. When we’re enveloped more and more by technology, to the point that we crave these glasses like a drug, like we crave our iPhones today but with more desire for the dopamine hit this resolution of AR can deliver.

I know deep down that the Apple Vision Pro is too immersive, and yet all I want to do is see the world through it. “I’m sure the technology is terrific. I still think and hope it fails,” one Silicon Valley investor said to me. “Apple feels more and more like a tech fentanyl dealer that poses as a rehab provider.” Harsh words, but he feels what we all feel, a slave to our smartphone, and he’s seen this play before and he knows what the first act is like, and the second act, and he knows how it ends.

If we thought iPhones were addictive, it sounds like we haven’t seen anything yet. Bilton’s sentiments were echoed in the first round of Vision Pro reviews.

The movie director James Cameron had a similar experience. He described his time testing Vision Pro as “profound. “I would say my experience was religious,” he told Vanity Fair. Cameron, of course, has a lot of experience with 3D and AR/VR. His latest Avatar movies are all in 3D. “I was skeptical at first,” Cameron added. “I don’t bow down before the great god of Apple, but I was really, really blown away.”

Want to know more about the Vision Pro development? Bilton’s in-depth article, entitled “Why Tim Cook is going all in on the Apple Vision Pro,” talks about visiting one of Apple’s secret “black ops” labs, among other things.

The piece is also notable for a photo of Tim Cook wearing the headset in his office at Apple Park. In the background, sitting on his desk, is an iPad that doesn’t look like any iPad in Apple’s current lineup. Is it a new, prototype iPad yet to be announced?

With Vision Pro hitting stores on Friday, Apple says there are already 600 spatial apps and games waiting for it.


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