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After three months, I can put Apple Vision Pro in the "worth it" category

It was a packed coast-to-coast flight a few days ago and I was flying economy. But even then, the social anxiety of being “that guy” ultimately stopped me from putting on the goggles. The series of events before that decision was this: I had opened a book as soon as I got into my seat, then the plan took off, then drinks and snacks were served and before I knew it we were an hour and a half into a five-hour flight. Fiddling with AVP’s battery and jamming the charger in between the seats felt like too much.

Still, there were a few emails in my inbox that needed long, thoughtful responses that referenced a few different files so as soon as the flight attendant cleaned out the drinks I got my laptop out, set it on the tray and started typing. Not a minute later, the person in front of me — about 6' 8", can’t say I blame them — reclined their seat all the way down.

I had never dug into my backpack so quickly, and it turns out that setting up AVP doesn’t take all that long, considering.

A few minutes later I was in Joshua Tree National Park, my Mac’s large virtual display in front of me, typing away on the MacBook Air’s keyboard that was just barely visible from the screen that was being pushed by the reclining seat. A seat that I didn’t see and wasn’t bothered by one bit.

My friends, it was glorious. I spent the next three hours Doing Important Things, messaging apps on one side, documents on the other, and I could easily have spent three more but before I knew it the pilot announced that the trays should go up so I packed all the electronics — again, quite quickly, considering — and went back to my book.

The flight back was not nearly as full — I had the row for myself — which made the experience even better: with all three trays to myself I could position the apps all around me from the middle seat. Better yet, I was ready for landing, flipping the tray up and setting the laptop back into my backpack but continuing to work with AVP on and Apple’s tiniest keyboard in my lap. I liked this set up so much that I was wondering whether Screens has a VisionOS version (it does), and whether I could ditch the MacBook altogether and stream my Mac Mini — or, in the future, a Mac Studio — for the heavier work.

So that was good.

But of course AVP is still very much an 0.1 product. It couldn’t remember app position or different setups: of all of Apple’s platforms, VisionOS needs Stage Manager the most. It often couldn’t decide whether to use the virtual or hardware keyboard. Using on-flight WiFi made things laggy at times — which is why the Screens setup probably wouldn’t work — and I had a feeling that some of the legginess was from unoptimized software more than anything else, particularly from the iPad apps. But if people don’t use it, what is the developers' motivation to improve their apps?

Which ties to what will most likely kill AVP, if something does kill it: Apple’s inexplicable inertia. Environments that were “Coming Soon” on launch still haven’t arrived. All but one immersive show are still in the Season 1 Episode 1 stage. There haven’t been any new Apple apps since launch even though the iPad event would have been a pretty good time to highlight them.

This is important: unless you use AVP as a personal TV — which I don’t, movie and TV watching should be a communal experience — or travel almost daily, your only incentive to put it on frequently is to see what’s new. And not using AVP frequently brings it into the empty battery — wait to recharge — wait to start up — wait to update death loop that has been the bane of many household gadgets, most of them, admittedly, costing much less than $3,500 plus tax.

Bud I digress; I do travel often enough for AVP to see frequent-enough use, and for the scenario I described at the beginning it is well worth the price. Conditional, of course, on what you actually do with the freedom it grants you.

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