Your roundup of tech, culture, and nostalgia for

February 20, 2024 // Web version //

TimeMachiner. Tech, culture, nostalgia. By Aaron Crocco
Inside Today's Issue:
Vision Sorta Pro

Read to the end for a post about inconsistent music.

This past weekend I got my hands on an Apple Vision Pro. Now, I'm far from any YouTuber who gets press products nor wannabe 'influencers' who buy products, review them, then return them within Apple's 14-day return window. And I certainly don't have a spare $3,400 laying around.

On Saturday I had some free time and saw on Apple's website that I could schedule a 30-minute demo at a local Apple Store. It's free and requires no promise to purchase or anything else. I wasn't sure what to expect, but what I can say is the whole demo went real fast.

I had a dedicated Apple employee, Pedro in my case, with me the whole time. One of the tables in the store was clear and in use only for demos. Pedro had an iPad that allowed him to see what I would see in the Vision Pro.

First thing's first: I wear glasses. Pedro took my glasses over to a machine that read my prescription. Next we used my iPhone to do a head measurement so the demo device could get the right sized light seal. After a few failed tries (you can't do the measurements with glasses on) it got the scan and we were set. About 5-minutes later a Vision Pro came out on a wooden platter all set up and ready.

After putting it on and tightening the strap, a single button-push was all I needed to turn it on and see the entire store. The passthrough video had really no lag and it only took a few seconds to get used to it. Yes, the video quality wasn't stunning, but it was certainly good. I easily grabbed my iPhone and took a selfie without even thinking about it.

Pedro walked me through an eye scan so the headset could track my eyes. It took only a minute and we were off to the races. He asked that I stick to the things he asked me to open and do, which was likely due to time constraints.

The 'experiences' as I'll call them came quick.

First I opened Photos. It looks like Photos on an iPad and it was very clear. Windows just stick in space. No jittering or drifting around. I used my fingers to move to the next photo. We moved to a panoramic photo and enlarged it to be a 180-degree view. It looked fantastic. Spacial videos and photos are essentially 3D items. When open their borders are fuzzy and you can't really tell where they end and the rest of the space begins. I liked them, but they move around as your head does. For someone who deals with motion sickness, I kinda wished they stayed in place. But... they looked really cool.

Next we opened Safari and then a cooking app. The goal was simply to show how you could open multiple apps, place them anywhere, and scroll through websites that looked crisp. Of course, I put Safari on the ceiling because why not.

The AppleTV app was next and a clip from the Super Mario movie started playing. It took a minute to realize it was in 3D. This looked so good and really should be the way to watch 3D movies. The color was vibrant. I loved how I could move the 'screen' anywhere. We then watched a 180-degree 'experiences' clip showing immersive videos you could watch in the Vision Pro. It was a commercial of sorts but gave you the idea of how things could be.

One thing that stuck out was a few clips from a baseball game. The camera was right on the baseline and I would love for all sports broadcasts to get 'front row viewing' set up for these devices. Imagine watching your team's games from the best seat while on your couch. Easily could be a premium offering from the four major sports leagues.

And that was it. The demo was over really fast. I wanted to try out more, but Pedro let me know it was time to take the Vision Pro off and tell him what I thought.

The thing that impressed me the most was the sound. If you've ever been in an Apple Store, you know it's always noisy. The built-in speakers sounded great. I couldn't hear everything but I heard most of what was playing.

But this thing is heavy. As soon as I put it on, I could feel the weight and had that resting near my eyebrows the entire time. When I took the thing off, it felt like a relief. It also had me realize there was some perspiration going on in there. For all the rumors of Apple's reducing of weight to the point of making the battery external, this thing is still heavy.

Vision Pro looks cool and has some great tricks. But it's a solitary device. I still can't come up with a 'must have' app or experience in which I want to use this in a practical way. The Vision Pro has a lot of party tricks and 'wow' moments. But the present is very much as Version 1, MVP device.

I saw in a review that this will be the worst Vision Pro device Apple will ship. And that is true. In the next three years, there will be radical improvements and my guess is by then the price will come down and we'll know what it's best at. That is the future I'm most interested in seeing.

Thanks for reading. Now, onto the rest of today's issue.

Apple’s Big Baby Moments
It's weird to see companies having public temper tantrums. The year is not even two months old and Apple has been on a tear with taking its ball and going home. First it was Apple's legal loss resulting in it being forced to allow outside payments from the App Store. On the surface this ruling looks like a big win for the likes of Spotify, Netflix, and any other company that doesn't want to pay a 30% cut to Apple for all purchases. Fair enough. But Apple, always one to want total control, is going the Full-Greed route wherein it will charge a 27% comission on outside purchases. Companies must keep records of purchases outside the App Store and submit to audits by Apple. This, combined with the standard 3% credit card processing fees (sometimes higher) means companies using outside payments will... you guessed it, still pay 30%. Ben Lovejoy…
Show Me This Story
Raccoon Causes Power Outage
Sometimes the headlines write themselves. A power outage in downtown Toronto earlier this month was the result of a raccoon coming in contact with "equipment". Alex Arsenych at CTV has more. A raccoon was behind the massive power outage that knocked out electricity to some 7,000 customers in downtown Toronto for hours Thursday night. Hydro One said a raccoon “made contact with equipment” at a downtown station, which cut the lights for parts of the city. The raccoon's condition is currently unknown. “We’re currently responding to an outage affecting customers in and around the following boundaries: St. Clair Avenue W to Gerrard Street W and Avenue Road to the Don Valley Parkway,” Toronto Hydro said in a statement on X, formerly Twitter. CTV This isn't the first time we've seen Canadian wildlife disrupt things. Only six months ago did we have an entire town's internet go offline due to beavers. While…
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Walmart Buys Vizio
What does a cool $2.3 billion get you? A well-established TV manufacturer if you're Walmart. Just announced this morning, Walmart is acquiring Vizio in a deal to expand its ad business. Tom Warren at The Verge has more. “The acquisition of Vizio and its SmartCast Operating System (OS) would enable Walmart to connect with and serve its customers in new ways including innovative television and in-home entertainment and media experiences,” says Walmart in a press release. “It would also create new opportunities to help advertisers connect with customers, empowering brands with differentiated and compelling opportunities to engage at scale and to realize greater impact from their advertising spend with Walmart.” Vizio has more than 500 direct advertiser partnerships, thanks to its Vizio Platform Plus business — which the company says “now accounts for a majority of the company’s gross profit.” Vizio’s smart TV OS, SmartCast, is also used by more…
Show Me This Story
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