Why you absolutely should do an Apple Vision Pro store demo

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A fat old guy getting a demo of Apple Vision Pro at an Apple retail store.
The store demo of Apple Vision Pro is wonderful. I urge you to get one.
Photo: Lyle Kahney/Cult of Mac

SAN FRANCISCO — I demoed the Vision Pro at the Apple Store here on Chestnut Street. It’s the most impressive tech product I’ve ever seen. It makes the iPhone seem like a primitive stone tablet. It’s amazingly intuitive, works literally like magic, and is incredibly emotional. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.

You don’t have to buy a Vision Pro, but you absolutely must go to a store and get a free demo. We put together a video (below) that will show you what to expect from your Vision Pro demo.

Apple Vision Pro store demo

Apple started offering in-store demos of Vision Pro on Friday, the day of the headset’s launch. They’re free at Apple Stores, and you can sign up online. It’s a quick, painless and guilt-free way to experience the $3,499 headset and what Apple calls “spatial computing.”

The Apple employees who walk you through the process won’t pressure you to buy a Vision Pro. And you’ll get a fantastic look at Apple’s big bet on the future of computing.

Vision Pro store demo

The Vision Pro demo takes about a half-hour. It’s guided by an Apple Store employee, who uses an iPad mini to see what you see inside the headset.

My demo began with the staffer scanning my eyeglasses in a special machine that measures the lenses. The machine selects the appropriate corrective lenses to allow you to see properly inside the headset.

Even though I’m nearsighted, I need lenses to make the Vision Pro’s UI clear. I thought I’d be able to see screens just an inch from my eyes just fine, and was surprised by this.

Vision Pro cheese plate

Apple Vision Pro on a wood platter during demo at an Apple retail store.
Vision Pro is served up on a wooden platter.
Photo: Lyle Kahney/Cult of Mac

After waiting a few minutes, the Vision Pro came from the back, presented on a wooden tray like a cheese plate at a fancy restaurant. I was highly amused by this.

After inserting the lenses — which snap into place using magnets — we quickly fitted the headset, and I adjusted the strap with a dial on the side. Afterward, I realized I’d dialed it way too tight. (It pinched my cheeks a little.)

Overall, I wasn’t aware of the headset’s weight or bulk (a prelaunch concern about Vision Pro). It didn’t register at all.

10-second learning curve

I got a quick tutorial on how to use the headset’s eye-tracking system, which follows where you are looking and activates when you pinch your fingers together.

You start by looking at a circle of six dots and pinching your finger as you focus on each dot. At first, I lifted my arm as though to touch the dots in space, which worked but is unnecessary. As the employee pointed out, I could leave my hand in my lap and the Vision Pro’s cameras would still detect the movement.

We went through a few basics, like using the Digital Crown to bring up the Home screen, which is populated with apps.

We opened the Photos app, resized the window, and scrolled through some pictures.

There was a 10-second learning curve to use the unfamiliar system, but it’s incredibly easy to pick up and intuitive to use. I marveled at how magical the visionOS user interface is: It works just by looking at things!

3D spatial photos and videos

3D spatial photos look quite wonderful. The demo photos are taken by a pro, and I wondered what my own would look like.

But the 3D spatial videos blew me away. We watched a short video of some kids blowing out birthday candles. It’s a cliche, but I did feel as though I was actually there.

I also looked at some panoramic landscapes, which were shot on iPhone. Expanded fullscreen, they were incredibly immersive and detailed. I looked all around and saw a ton of detail. It’s a great way to relive past trips, and lot of people will have panoramas they can enjoy.

3D sports bring a tear to your eye

I also watched some 3D videos on a giant screen. I was impressed with the Vision Pro’s stereo speakers, even in the noisy store.

In the Vision Pro demo, there’s a clip of a soccer match, shot from behind the goal, and another of a baseball game, shot from the sidelines. Both were incredibly impressive. 3D is going to be an unbelievable way to watch sports.

The Apple staffer said a baseball fan teared up in a previous demo, and I believed her.

Vision Pro’s first killer app: Immersive Experiences

Vision Pro on display at an Apple retail store.
Vision Pro on display at an Apple retail store.
Photo: Lyle Kahney/Cut of Mac

The Immersive Experience videos were the most impressive of all. These are 360-degree videos where a shark approaches underwater, a bear wanders by in the wilderness, and a baby rhino is petted right in front of you.

I felt as though I could reach out and touch the animals — and idiotically, I stretched my arm out into empty space.

I watched a short video of a woman walking a tightrope over a Norwegian fjord. At first, I saw her face very close up. It was disconcerting and uncomfortable: She moved right into my personal space.

Then, when she stepped out onto the tightrope, I almost puked up. I don’t like heights, and this felt horribly realistic. I didn’t like it at all.

How to set up a Vision Pro store demo

Vision Pro demos are available starting February 5 if you book ahead.

To sign up for a demo, head to Apple’s Vision Pro product page and click the “Book a demo” button. Alternatively, you can use the Apple Store app.

But demos are already very popular. On Saturday morning, the first demos available in San Francisco start on February 9, almost a week away.

Alternatively, you can take your chances by going to an Apple Store and trying to get a same-day booking.

Vision Pro brings all the feels

The demo is supposed to last about 20 or 30 minutes, but mine was a little longer. I also watched others in the store taking the demo. There were smiles on everyone’s faces and lots of “wows” and “oohs.”

I came away seriously impressed, especially by the intuitive UI and Immersive Experiences, which are incredible. I can’t wait to watch sports in 3D.

During the Vision Pro demo, I felt a range of emotions: wonder, laughter, nostalgia and fear.

You don’t have to buy an Apple Vision Pro, but you must go to an Apple Store and try one on.

You’ll be scared, tearful, surprised and overjoyed. You won’t regret it.

More on Apple Vision Pro:

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