The easiest way to test-drive the Vision Pro is by booking a 30-minute session at an Apple store for an employee-guided demo. Even though I’ve already tried it for myself in the office, and I’ve been reporting on the mixed reality headset for weeks, there was still much for me to learn just by sitting down and getting my own official Apple store walkthough. 

My curiosity wasn’t so much about what it’s like to use it. I’ve already done that by sharing with my colleague Scott Stein. I wanted to know how Apple captivates customers with a store experience. What happens in a demo to make you want to spend $3,499 and take the leap into spatial computing, as Apple calls it? 

I was able to film my experience at the flagship Fifth Avenue Apple store in New York City, which you can watch in this week’s episode of One More Thing, embedded above. 

It’s like a theme park ride, but you’re in control

Apple crafted something that I would describe as an entertaining ride. An Apple store employee is your guide, making sure your sample fits well, teaching you the controls and laying out the path of apps for you to try. Even though I knew it was just a sample headset with preloaded examples of content, I quickly felt this sense of ownership, like I had full control of this unit as the navigator. 

Trying the Vision Pro in an Apple store is a smoother test drive than anything you can get from sharing with a friend’s device — and that’s in part to what Apple did to make sure you feel confident controlling a store sample.

With my store guide (who can see what I’m doing in the headset via an iPad), I’m scrolling through examples of panoramic photos that look life-size. It’s better than any vacation photo I’ll ever take. I’m going through 3D spatial photos and videos of a family that doesn’t exist, of a birthday party that never happened — but the cake is so close I can touch it with my nose. It seems like I’m in the room with them. 

You can’t get these visual examples at home 

There’s a strong brain connection happening with these manufactured memories because of how close it all feels. There’s an artistry to the types of scenes Apple created, making you think about your own family or what you could do with 3D content. 

The Vision Pro you take home would only show photos in your personal library. I’ve taken some spatial videos of my kids that were very impressive, but not as impressive as an Apple marketing production.

You’re then taken to the best computer wallpaper ever — an immersive background environment of Mt. Hood in Oregon. The gravel below is so detailed you expect to see your foot standing there. And as you poke around apps like Safari, the scene changes — you can see and hear raindrops falling across a lake.

Entertainment is the main focus

But the “computer” part of the sample is brief; I was thrown right back into entertainment with clips from Avatar and The Super Mario Bros. Movie. These were only brief movie moments, but the clips invoked feelings of otherworldliness like a warm helping of hope and adventure was just served up to you on a platter. 

Apple plucks at your heartstrings, knowing exactly how to transport you, even if it’s brief. Your grand finale is a sample of 180-degree 8K immersive videos that completely hug you. Alicia Keys is singing so close I could touch her microphone. Baby rhinos rush up and I instinctually raise my hands. I’m teased with what’s possible in sports, showing soccer plays from the top of the goal net. 

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Your store demo samples from immersive programming made for Vision Pro. Watching a clip from Alicia Keys Rehearsal Room makes it seem like she’s singing to you, just inches away. 

Apple

It’s sensory overload, and I ate it up. Even though the concept of the Vision Pro wasn’t new to me, I was hit so fast with good feelings that I’m left curious about what can be done with entertainment and whether I would be missing out if I didn’t get to see what’s coming. 

If at any point you take off the headset in the store, you can just slip it back on without calibrating it again. That helps drive home the sense of ownership you get during your demo — the whole time you’re in control.

If you want to explore other aspects, your guide can pivot to show you things like presenting a Keynote, or typing in Notepad. But this was all about feeling a tease of what’s possible in entertainment. And you don’t have to spend $3,499 to take it for a spin. 


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