Excited for Apple’s Vision Pro? Forget that, rumors have started about how the sequel will be better

Apple is rumored to be considering making changes to the next version of the Vision Pro – still some way off, given the first-gen model is yet to launch, of course – around slimming down the headset’s size and weight.

In Mark Gurman’s latest Power On newsletter (for Bloomberg), the well-known Apple leaker told us that the company is mulling some notable improvements for the next-gen Vision Pro on the comfort front.

Gurman observes that with some feedback from testers expressing concerns about neck strain due to the weight of the headset, Apple wants to make the next-gen device both lighter and more compact.

This may be a key focus for the next iteration of the Vision Pro, as Apple fears that the weight of the incoming first device “could turn off consumers already wary of mixed-reality headsets,” Gurman asserts. The Vision Pro can feel too heavy for some folks, even during shorter periods of use, we’re told.

Reducing the weight of next-gen Vision Pro is the priority by the sounds of it, with any size reduction likely to be much less noticeable (and harder to achieve).

As 9 to 5 Mac, which spotted this, further points out, Apple actually already made the incoming first-gen headset more compact – with a trade-off. Namely, the design doesn’t give room for people who wear prescription glasses to be able to fit those in.

So, that creates a separate issue in catering to spectacle wearers, and Apple’s solution is to implement a system of prescription lenses that magnetically attach to the 4K displays for the headset.

That’s not ideal, though, for a lot of reasons. It’s a headache for retailers in terms of stocking the huge number of lens prescriptions they’ll have to deal with – having to find the right one for a glasses wearer not just if they’re buying, but also if they’re simply wanting to try out the headset.

Another obvious downside is that the owner’s glasses prescription may well change in the future (ours certainly does, repeatedly), so again, there’s the hassle of having to get new lenses for your Vision Pro too.

It seems Apple is mulling the idea of shipping custom-built headsets directly with the correct prescription lenses preinstalled, but there could be problems with that, as well.

Gurman noted: “First, built-in prescription lenses could make Apple a health provider of sorts. The company may not want to deal with that. Also, that level of customization would make it harder for consumers to share a headset or resell it.”

Whether that whole thorny nest of glasses-related issues can be tackled with the Vision Pro 2, well, we’ll just have to see.

Apple Vision Pro

(Image credit: Apple)

Analysis: Long-term vision for success

So, it seems like the weight of the Vision Pro might be an issue from early testing feedback. That said, in his try-out session, our editor-in-chief found the headset “relatively comfortable” and so wasn’t critical on that front. But 9 to 5 Mac’s writer observed that while shorter sessions are likely to be fine, they could “absolutely see getting tired of wearing [the headset] after extended sessions.”

This may vary from person to person somewhat, it’s true, but it sounds like if Apple is indeed planning to make the next-gen headset lighter, the firm is recognizing that things in this department are less than ideal.

At any rate, while it’s good to hear this, we’ll only really know how the Vision Pro shapes up on the comfort front when it comes to full review time.

For us, though, the most uncomfortable part of the Vision Pro experience is the price. Even just looking at that price tag makes our hearts heavy, as we won’t ever be able to afford the thing.

At $ 3,500 in the US (around £2,900, AU$ 5,500) – and remember, the prescription lenses will add to that bill, especially if you need multiple lenses for different family members – the Vision Pro is just too rich for our blood. We just can’t see that price flying with consumers when Apple’s headset hits the shelves next year in the US (in theory early in 2024).

Especially with mixed reality and VR headsets in general being a niche enough prospect as it is. Indeed, Meta’s Quest 3 is so, so much more affordable in comparison, and for the money represents a great buy.

It’s not like Apple doesn’t realize all this, of course, and we’ve already heard chatter on the grapevine about how a cheaper Vision Pro model might be inbound – which more than any other improvement, would be fantastic to see.

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Sick of hearing about ChatGPT in Bing? Too bad: Microsoft is just getting started

On Thursday, March 16, Microsoft is planning to reveal more of its grand scheme for implementing AI chatbot ChatGPT’s features into yet more aspects of our lives – specifically, how the tech firm has big plans to “reinvent productivity with AI”.

Besides being utterly meaningly corporate marketing jargon, this notion of ‘reinventing productivity’ is concerning at best, especially since we don’t know what it actually entails yet. Speculation is rife that Microsoft plans to integrate ChatGPT into the Microsoft 365 (formerly Office) software suite, along with the Dynamics 365 suite for enterprise use.

This comes hot on the heels of Microsoft shoving the chatbot into almost everything it owns. Starting out with the integration of ChatGPT into Bing and following rapidly with AI-powered additions to Skype and the Windows 11 taskbar, Microsoft has been going hard when it comes to AI in its software.

We had already speculated about the ways in which ChatGPT could transform Microsoft’s consumer software suite, so it’s not like this is a huge surprise. However, I’m worried about the whole prospect; Microsoft is rushing into its AI implementation plan, and it’s going to cause more problems than it solves.

The AI arms race

Microsoft’s apparent desire to shoehorn AI features into yet more of its products is likely a response to competitor Salesforce’s own moves in partnering up with ChatGPT creator OpenAI to bring the chatbot to Slack (as well as Snapchat introducing its own AI chatbot) This sort of reactionary decisionmaking is rarely a wise move, especially when it involves AI.

ChatGPT has already proven itself to be, well, problematic. Whether it’s being used to commit cybercrime or create spurious photography competition entries, AI poses some very serious risks. Many of these problems are caused by human abuse of AI software, but tools like ChatGPT have their own failings too.

We’re witnessing a real-time arms race to cram AI tech into every aspect of our lives, and I wouldn’t trust Microsoft (or any huge tech company, like Google or Meta) to be the harbingers of this chatbot renaissance. Right now, Microsoft is demonstrating a lack of caution when it comes to ChatGPT and AI in general, especially since it’s a space yet to see serious regulation from major governments.

I will admit that AI coming to the 365 suite is actually a much less horrible idea than, say, letting ChatGPT make video content. The ability to ask ChatGPT something simple like ‘add some animations to my PowerPoint presentation’ or ‘reformat this text document as a letter’ is both useful and relatively non-threatening – though the potential for Microsoft Word to simply write content for you is a bit concerning, especially for the academic space.

I’m not saying that ChatGPT being added to these tools is going to ruin our lives, but it has issues – and I’m definitely not convinced that Microsoft is taking all the right precautions here. This is a situation where caution will be rewarded; Google isn’t letting people get up close and personal with its new AI just yet, and Microsoft themselves had to limit the Bing chatbots replies after a whole load of weirdness from the AI. Charging ahead with more AI tools right now? Not a good look.

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