Apple Vision Pro Reviewers Say Persona Feature is 'Deeply Weird'
The first full-length reviews of Apple's new Vision Pro headset were published this week, and one feature in particular has received some criticism.
Since the Vision Pro covers your face during video calls, Apple allows you to create a digital version of yourself called a Persona. Apple says a Persona is an "authentic spatial representation" of a person that shows facial expressions and hand movements in real time. The feature is still labeled as a "beta," and seemingly for good reason.
On FaceTimes with friends and family, the reviews were unanimous: "You look awful," my sister said. "It's like Botox from hell," remarked the always-kind Jason Gay. "Frightening," said my dad.
Calling other Vision Pro reviewers was slightly better because we all looked ridiculous. But everyone agreed I looked the worst. And this was after I remade my Persona numerous times, with professional lighting.
I won't go into that much detail on Apple's deeply weird and extremely uncanny 3D persona system here […] You can see why Apple put the beta label on them; there's a long way to go before using a persona on a call isn't distracting at best and, at worst, extremely rude.
Apple is prominently labeling the entire persona feature "beta", and it doesn't take more than a moment of seeing one to know why. Personas are weird. They are very deep in the uncanny valley. There is no mistaking a persona for the actual person. At times they seem far more like a character from a video game than a photorealistic visage. And at all times they seem somewhat like a video game character. My hair, for example, looks like a shiny plastic Lego hairpiece.
You can watch Justine Ezarik, Marques Brownlee, and Brian Tong testing their Personas on a FaceTime call in the video below:
Personas extend to the Vision Pro's outer display, allowing others to view a digital recreation of your eyes. This feature is called EyeSight, and it has mostly been panned in these initial reviews and on social media this week.
These eyes only appear when someone is nearby to look at me, I think. When I'm in an app, the display becomes a shimmering iridescent thing, indicating I'm in an app. Sometimes my eyes seem to half-appear. And they blink. They seem to frown, or dart around, or go wide or squint. They animate as my face emotes. It's uncanny.
Quinn Nelson of the YouTube channel Snazzy Labs:
The most surprising takeaway from all the Vision Pro reviews/videos is how universally awful the EyeSight display is. Until today, I expected it to be super important to the “I’m still in the real world” experience. Now, I’m 95% sure it’ll be canned by the 2nd gen. pic.twitter.com/H90Wa3ckL7 — Snazzy Labs (@SnazzyLabs) January 30, 2024
Apple will likely enhance the Persona and EyeSight features in future visionOS updates, and it is clear there is room for improvement.
Vision Pro launches in the U.S. on Friday, and Apple said the headset will be released in additional countries at some point later this year.