apple vision pro image from front
Image source: Apple Vision Pro – Apple

The online world has been buzzing about this product since it debuted last year in 2023. Now that it’s on the market, the main talk is centered around one question: Can Apple Vision Pro really replace the smartphone?

With top-notch tech like spatial computing, spatial audio, and spatial video, lots of users are considering saying goodbye to their smartphones and embracing the Vision Pro. 

But, is it genuinely a product worth shifting away from the super practical and advanced smartphone? 

Let’s dive in and see.

What is Apple Vision Pro

So what exactly is the Apple Vision Pro?  

For general consumers, it’s a VR headset. But for Apple, it’s a “spatial computing device”. And there’s a reason for that, which I’ll come to later.

The Technology Inside Vision Pro

So there’s a big piece of glass. And behind the glass is an outward facing OLED display with a lot of sensors all the way around. These sensors are present in forward, upward and downward directions. There are depth sensors, infrared illuminators, LIDAR scanners and regular RGB cameras.

All being processed by an M2 chip and an R1 chip inside this thing. And inside the headset, there are a bunch of more sensors, facing your eyes. These sensors are tracking your eyes in real time, for all the eye control and everything around that. And with that, they display a representation of your eyes, on the outside of the headset! 

And that’s the tech behind the computer which you will wear on your face. 

Input Methods In Vision Pro

Since it’s a VR headset, this means the input method must be different then? Yes it is. The only input methods are your eyes and your hands. 

You manage the device using your eyes, hands, and voice to navigate, make selections, and dictate. As per initial experiences shared by reviewers, the eye-tracking system’s navigation is notably impressive, particularly given that the Vision Pro is a first-generation product.

You wear the headset and you start seeing the world around you – in space. You want to select it, cut it, drop it or do any operation, you just tap the two fingers on your hand together (index and the thumb).

And that’s why Apple wants it to be called a spatial computing device. You’re computing in space. Around you. This makes the Vision Pro a lot more intuitive than any other VR headset in the market right now. And in actual reviews, some have pointed that out too.

Apple Vision Pro is possibly one of the most (or actually the most) radical looking products of all time. The thing looks like it’s literally out of the Ready Player One movie.

comparison of apple vision pro with the ready player one headset by showing similarities in design.

Will Apple Vision Pro replace your smartphone?

Just think about this for a while – If the Apple Vision Pro aimed to replace your smartphone (or the iPhone), doesn’t it have to be portable and usable everywhere? How will people carry around the headset or show other people stuff without a screen?

It makes no sense to always be wearing something, instead of having a device you can keep it aside and pass along to someone to show something. The practicality just isn’t there. Even with a more compact design.

Part 1: Smartphone and its use cases

Before we get to the replacing part of it, let’s understand what AND HOW does a smartphone help you achieve what you want to achieve.

(Just in case, if you’re thinking of buying a new smartphone, you should check my guide on it. I personally use those strategies and rarely see anyone talking about it. So, it’ll be worth your time.)

An average consumer uses a smartphone for a lot of tasks. These include communication (calls, messages), accessing information (internet browsing, apps), socializing (social media), photography, navigation, entertainment (videos, music, games), and managing daily activities (calendar, reminders). 

What does the process look like? Take out the smartphone from your pocket and start doing what you want. Call/text someone. Watch a movie. Take photos/videos or scroll Twitter (or X after Musk’s takeover). But when you don’t want to do any of it, keep it aside or in your pocket.

Part 2: Vision Pro and its use cases

What do YOU achieve with using the Apple Vision Pro? The short answer is 360 degree, immersive entertainment and lots of detailed productivity. Detailed productivity means you can see things in space which helps you choose and see minute detailing in work. 

For example, if you are an engineering student, you can see the inner workings of a combustion engine. Possibilities like this are endless.

Or you can make your surroundings like you’re on the moon, in ancient India, or the Amazon forest. Or even inside a human body, virtually of course. 

But you can achieve all this when you wear the headset. Not without it. 

Vision Pro is another device category

Apple is famous for not building something that doesn’t put the product aside from its already established lineup of products. That is the iPhone, iPad, Mac, AirPods and Watch. So, one thing is clear that they’ll not want to make it a replacement for any of their devices. 

What they’ll do instead is make sure Vision Pro becomes an entirely different category of products. They’ll do everything it takes to not make it a replacement for any of their lineup. They did it with the Macbooks. They did it with the iPad. And they’ll most certainly do it with the Vision Pro. 

They even introduced an entirely new operating system for that only – the VisionOS.

Although some think that the Vision Pro will replace the iPhone like the iPhone replaced the Apple iPod. It can become a reality but I think that’s the reason why Apple has become so careful in making sure every lineup stands different. 

If the rumors are true Apple is planning to eventually release its AR Glass. I believe AR Glass is going to be slicker, lighter and more comfortable than the Vision Pro. Thus making it a far better replacement for the iPhone.

The Vision Pro is like the starting point for Apple’s AR glasses. They might be putting all their hard work into it and getting app makers ready for something big. But, we just have to wait and see.

What Next?

When it comes to personal computing, there are these moments where everything changes when we get a new way to control things.

We switched from teletype and typing commands to a graphical user interface (GUI) with a mouse. This not only made using computers simpler but also made us way more productive. It’s like we upgraded from a basic interaction to a more advanced, two-dimensional setup.

Apple is not someone who will try to ‘revolutionize’ things, just for the sake of it. Maybe they just want to move civilization forward with any possible tech that can make us create stuff. Because essentially, humans are tool makers. 

We make tools to achieve the grandest things. Apple’s Vision Pro might just be the tool we’re looking for.

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