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Apple Vision Pro and productivity, one week in

AVP’s use as a personal entertainment device in unquestionable, and I look forward to catching up on many movies, TV shows and PS5 games in which no one else in the family has shown any interest. That alone is sufficient reason not to return it.

But why I bought it in the first place was to do work while traveling, and even though there are signigificant and valid concerns about its use as a “productivity device” — the quotes are there because I have developed an aversion to productivity as a concept — I think I will be able to deal with the many tradeoffs, some of which are:

The screens. As high-resolution as they are, they are dimmer then my 5K LG UltraFine and their simulated 4K virtual Mac display Henceforth VMD, because “VD” has other connotations. is just not as sharp. Marco Arment’s observation in the most recent episode of ATP was spot on: to be usable, the resolution should be one notch lower than the default 2560x1440, which significantly decreases the usable space, at least until dual VMDs become supported. Still, it is higher than the default resolution of my 13" MacBook Air and AVP native apps floating on the side can relieve some of the screen real estate. I will see how this pans out the next time I’m back on the plane — as early as next week.

The input. When using the VMD in an environment — Mt. Hood has been my preferred place of work — the keyboard tends to be occluded and blurry, and the display floats slightly higher than the physical screen. This is suboptimal, even if you are a very good touch typist (I am merely adequate). Dictation will be my friend moving forward, but the devil is in the editing: AVP is marginally worse at it when using the VMD and insurmountably worse in the native apps.

Fantastical is a good example: the native AVP app is wonderfully done, and I’d rather have it floating on the side of the VMD while focusing on actual work. Alas, entering a new meeting using the native app has been painful and each time I defaulted back to MacOS. Considering Fantastical’s origin as an applet for entering appointments using natural language, this is kind of sad. Should I not be able to tell it what to do with my appointments and have it rearrange them? I hope the AVP market is large enough for Flexibits to consider replacing the “+” icon with a microphone, and have voice be the main input method in realityOS.

The apps. Or lack thereof. This, I hope, will solve itself over time, because having OmniFocus float off on the side would save much VMD space. But here again is a conundrum: the floating window would be OK for checking off tasks, but I still rely on too many Omni automations and Keyboard Maestro shortcuts to ever fully switch to the native app. Again, having better voice input would help.

The native apps themselves have so far — slight differences in design aside — been like having several iPad minis float in front of you. And for what it is, it works. So it seems that Apple has finally found the right way to multitask in iPad OS; too bad it can’t be done on the iPad itself.

The comfort. I have a strong suspicion my face scan when ordering got the shield size wrong, and there is at least one person who’s had the similar experience of too much pressure on the cheekbones that was relieved when he redid the scan and tried on an adequate mask at the store. The same video mentions an essential part of fitting that I haven’t been doing: realigning the displays each time I fiddled with the dual bands and the AVP position on my face. Proper alignment made the high-resolution VMD much less blurry; the difference in the chunky native apps was not an obvious, though I suspect it would decrease motion sickness if there was any before.

The portability. That $200 case is just too big. It would take up the entire space of my backpack, and I don’t even carry my backpack when traveling for business. So, some rethinking is in order in how I pack everything which is one of those infrastructure things I’d rather not have to deal with, but from limited home use of AVP it seems like it will be worth it.

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