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Om Malik on Apple Vision Pro's Power to Create Immersive Photos & Video


Om Malik Photo Vision Pro Apple

Photo copyright Om Malik — see original and others on his site

Writer and venture capitalist Om Malik, who tutored me on the tech world as my editor at GigaOM, just wrote one of the most interesting takes on Vision Pro I've come across.

Because Om also happens to be excellent photographer (evidence above and below), and from his hands-on experience, has a unique take on what Apple's XR headset will empower:

During my first visit [to the Apple campus], I got to spend a lot of time in the “Photos” app — where I looked at photos that were part of a library curated by Apple… When I opened the app and then opened a photo, I could pinch and expand the photo as if I were viewing it on the screen of a reference home theater. The photos seemed to have enveloped me — a feeling of floating inside the photo itself. This is such an alien, and yet an intimate, experience. We are so used to looking at photos zoomed in — on the screens of our phones or our laptops. We never quite experience the magnificence of the entirety of the photos in our daily lives. This is exactly the opposite — there is a whole new appreciation of being there. And that’s why I believe we are going to be thinking about our photography very differently.

He's describing photo viewing, in other words, as an immersive experience. But not the immersion typically associated with VR headsets. The VisionPro's surface resemblance to a standard virtual reality HMD has fooled many us of immersion geeks, I suspect, to mainly think of connecting it to virtual worlds, or AR gaming experiences.

But while 1 in 4 people enjoy immersive virtual worlds (very broadly defined), all of us who can, love looking at photos. 

And viewing videos — another place for Om where the Vision Pro shines:

Photo Om Malik Vision Pro Apple

Photo copyright Om Malik — see original and others on his site

The playback of the [Vision Pro] videos happens in what seems like a hazy, light, borderless frame, giving the videos a dreamlike quality. It is a very strange feeling — as if you have been transported back in time — and the videos have a dimensionality to them. The spatial videos I experienced felt more like memories — somewhere between reality and an abstraction of it.

During my visit, Apple asked me to visit a special area where a sushi chef was making sushi, and I captured the video to be played back. I zoomed into his fingers massaging the rice, the sushi on the plate. The video was absolutely stunning, but clearly, it lacked the emotional appeal of a family video. On a recent visit, one of Apple’s team members took a video of me walking through the Apple Orchard toward the camera. It was almost as if I was walking out of the frame.

This feels like a use case that does have mass market appeal, especially as the Vision Pro drops below the $1000 range. As for the $3500 price point now, I think Jeff Yang is right that it'll be a replacement for the pricey, multi-screen enabling Mac Pro.

I remain excited about the Vision Pro for XR and Metaverse-related use cases, but we should probably expect that to be a niche. (Albeit one that increasingly grows as the price goes down.) Until then, read all of Om's post for a take on what Vision Pro's near/medium future may bring


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