Apple Vision Pro is 'Over-Engineered Devkit,' Says Former Oculus Head

Apple's first-generation Vision Pro headset is an "over-engineered devkit" that ships with more sensors than is necessary to deliver Apple's intended experience. That's according to Hugo Barra, former VP of Android and head of Meta's phased-out Oculus headset brand.

apple vision pro setup
Barra, who oversaw the Oculus team in 2017 after it was acquired by Facebook, has published a surprisingly balanced in-depth analysis of Apple's spatial computing device, which is well worth a read. But a couple of reflections are worth highlighting.

Barra notes that Apple has packed Vision Pro with an impressive six tracking cameras, two passthrough cameras, two depth sensors, and four eye-tracking cameras. This "over-spec'ing," says Barra, is "characteristic of a v1 product where its creator wants to ensure it survives the hardest tests early users will no doubt want to put the product through."

Apple's decision to over-spec the Vision Pro, however, inevitably makes the headset weigh over 600 grams, and "makes it difficult for most people to wear it for more than 30-45 minutes at a time without suffering a lot of discomfort."

Because of its heavy weight, Vision Pro has inevitably landed in the world as a high-quality "devkit" designed to capture everyone's curiosity, hearts & minds with its magic (especially through the voice of enthusiastic tech influencers) while being realistically focused on developers as its primary audience. In other words, the Vision Pro is a devkit that helps prepare the world to receive a more mainstream Apple VR headset that could have product-market fit in 1 or 2 generations.

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman believes Apple is working on multiple new Apple Vision models, exploring both a low-cost version and a second-generation version. With the low-cost version, Gurman believes Apple will eliminate the EyeSight feature and the M-series chip, using more affordable components.

In another notable claim, Barra reckons Apple has made the Vision Pro experience intentionally blurry in order to hide pixelation artifacts and make graphics appear smoother, which he sees as a "clever move" by Apple.

One of our biggest product positioning struggles within the Oculus VR team from the very beginning — especially when trying to convince reviewers — was always related to having underwhelming displays. Every single Oculus headset that ever shipped (including the latest Quest 3) has suffered from resolution/pixelation issues varying from "terrible" to "pretty bad". It's like we're living in the VR-equivalent world of VGA computer monitors.

By making the Vision Pro optics slightly out of focus, Apple has achieved "way smoother graphics across the board by hiding the screen door effect (which in practice means that you won't see pixelation artifacts)." However, Barra laments the Vision Pro's "significant motion blur and image quality issues that render passthrough mode unusable for longer periods."

Barra claims that it was this motion blur in passthrough mode that was one of the many reasons why he decided to return his Vision Pro. "It's just uncomfortable, leads to unnecessary eye strain, and really gets in the way of anyone using the headset for longer periods of time," he adds.

You can find Barra's lengthy write-up of his experience with Vision Pro over on his blog. Apple Vision Pro starts at $3,499 in the United States, with the device expected to launch in more countries later this year.

Related Roundup: Apple Vision Pro
Tag: Meta
Buyer's Guide: Vision Pro (Buy Now)
Related Forum: Apple Vision Pro

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Top Rated Comments

Abobrek Avatar
13 weeks ago

nearly every impression I've read about the Vision Pro has been so far, wrong IMO after owning the device
- solo knit band is more comfortable than the dual band
- passthrough is blurry while some reviewers say it's amazing.
- it's not any less comfortable than my Quest 3
- have no problems wearing it for 2 hours straight
Wild that this guy has worn more VR headsets and has more experience with VR than you, yet, somehow he is “wrong”. If you actually read the entire article, he is quite positive about the AVP and states several factors that makes it far superior to other VR headsets. It seems as all you have done is picked out the negatives and why he is “wrong”.
Score: 35 Votes (Like | Disagree)
sirdir Avatar
13 weeks ago
I'm old enough to remember VGA as a huge progress ^^
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
klasma Avatar
13 weeks ago

Aoole
Did Apple merge with Google and I missed it?
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Abobrek Avatar
13 weeks ago

The primary reason being that he already spent all the time he needs to learn from the unit and, as a competitor, has no use for it. ?
He’s not a “competitor” at all. He doesn’t work for Meta any longer and in fact, makes valid points about how the AVP is superior. You clearly did not read the entire article. The author of the article clearly states that he is a VR ENTHUSIAST and was so even prior to working for Meta.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
truthsteve Avatar
13 weeks ago
nearly every impression I've read about the Vision Pro has been so far, wrong IMO after owning the device
- solo knit band is more comfortable than the dual band
- passthrough is blurry while some reviewers say it's amazing.
- it's not any less comfortable than my Quest 3
- have no problems wearing it for 2 hours straight
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
0339327 Avatar
13 weeks ago

Barra claims that it was this motion blur in passthrough mode that was one of the many reasons why he decided to return his Vision Pro.
The primary reason being that he already spent all the time he needs to learn from the unit and, as a competitor, has no use for it. ?
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)