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Wearing Apple Vision Pro on the plane is a social experience

Wearing Apple Vision Pro on the plane is a social experience

For the first time in three months, I dared to take my Apple Vision Pro on a long trip. The fear of shyness dominated the first hours, before it was overcome by the joy of watching a movie on a giant screen. Acceptance of virtual reality will take time.

Since February 2, 2024, you have been an owner of an Apple Vision Pro headphone. A product that I often took with me on trips, by train or plane, but never dared to take it. The fear of shame, of being photographed or ridiculed by other travellers, has always controlled my desire to watch movies on a giant screen.

On May 9th, a week before Google I/O, I flew to San Francisco. A 12-hour flight, I promised myself I would give it a try. I downloaded several episodes of the series the other day on Apple TV+ and Disney+, so I could watch them without a network. I also took a seat near the window, between two rows, to be more discreet. So, how was it?

The launch of Apple Vision Pro is attracting attention

During the first two hours of the flight, I hesitated for a long time to take the headphone out. I initially waited until the first meal was served and the passengers started watching movies so that I could do so discreetly, without looking like I wanted to be noticed. Yes, I know that this “humility” is for everyone, and others will not hesitate.

As in the Apple ad, icons and movies appear in the middle of the view.  // Source: Numerama
As in the Apple ad, icons and movies appear in the middle of the view. // Source: Numerama

First, I took out my computer to start working. She then decided to take the headset out of its large protective box, which not surprisingly went unnoticed. My neighbor on the right, who didn't smile once, seemed to be staring at me during this preparation phase.

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Once I had the Apple Vision Pro on my head, I first had to activate Travel Mode, which allows the image to remain steady despite the plane's movement. First observation: the image is not very stable in the dark. I had to open the porthole slightly so that some light could enter the cabin, to avoid blowing out the image in front of me. In normal mode, this problem does not exist. It's really a travel mode that struggles to stabilize.

Be careful not to look left or right in travel mode, as there may be errors in the headset.Be careful not to look left or right in travel mode, as there may be errors in the headset.
Be careful not to look left or right in travel mode, as there may be errors in the headset. // Source: Numerama

Working and watching series: real fun on board

First use of the Vision Pro on an airplane: Working on a Mac. It's a lot of fun to use your MacBook, with the screen off and a 70-inch surface in front of your eyes. I felt like the people around me were looking at me strangely, wondering if I was writing in a vacuum, but the comfort was definitely there. I've written two articles with this configuration with a super-stable connection between my Mac and Vision Pro (via Wi-Fi Direct). Just apologies: we still can't hear the Mac's audio with a headset (can't wait for VisionOS 2). I had to connect my AirPods to my Mac, otherwise I wouldn't hear the sound from the headphones.

Then I removed the Mac to use just the Vision Pro, which I connected to the plane's Wi-Fi. Another fun use: watching live TV, in this case Secret Story (yes, I suppose). Then I watched an episode of Franklin, the series you downloaded the day before on Apple TV+. Cinema mode, which allows you to instantly move into a dark room, is incredible. You completely forget that you're on a plane, which makes time seem to go by faster. I watched an episode of what if On Disney+, it takes me to the top of Avengers Tower in New York. This is also really nice.

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I have often felt ashamed of my appearance.  What do my neighbors think?  // Source: NumeramaI have often felt ashamed of my appearance.  What do my neighbors think?  // Source: Numerama
For audio, I used AirPods, to really isolate. // Source: Numerama

However, I noticed a surprising behavior: Content downloaded locally on Apple TV+, e.g Franklin, with a resolution of 1080 pixels. What a mistake by Apple, which makes pixels visible on headphone displays. When streaming, the quality of Apple TV+ 4K content is absolutely perfect with Vision Pro. Apparently, the plane's Wi-Fi is too slow to stream in 4K Dolby Vision.

At the end of the trip, I watched a live football match with… myCANAL. The small screen on the seat in front of me is dwarfed by the giant 90-inch screen in the middle of my vision, along with the floating stats. I can't see myself returning after enjoying this viewing experience.

It requires DRM so I can show you what I was watching on Canal+.  But a live soccer match, with the stats shifted to the right, is pretty cool.It requires DRM so I can show you what I was watching on Canal+.  But a live soccer match, with stats moving right, is pretty cool.
It requires DRM so I can show you what I was watching on Canal+. But a live soccer match, with the stats shifted to the right, is pretty cool. // Source: Numerama

Then people asked me questions

During the football match, the flight attendant came to see me. She first started staring at me, then stopped in front of me, before I indicated that I saw her. She told me that throughout the trip she wondered if I was in a virtual reality or seeing the world, which prompted her not to bother me. My neighbors from behind, when they heard this conversation, also asked me about the helmet.

As usual over the past three months, I turned into a protester. I did some demos for the flight attendant and a couple of passengers, who wanted to see what we experienced with the headphones. All three told me they found it really cool, even if the others stared at me during the demo part.

With the virtual environment, you can feel like you are in the mountains when you look forward, while seeing out the window and your neighbors on the sides.  It's special.  // Source: NumeramaWith the virtual environment, you can feel like you are in the mountains when you look forward, while seeing out the window and your neighbors on the sides.  It's special.  // Source: Numerama
With the virtual environment, you can feel like you are in the mountains when you look forward, while seeing out the window and your neighbors on the sides. It's special. // Source: Numerama

Final Rating: Nice headache, but the trip goes by quickly

Over the course of a 12-hour flight, I probably wore the headset for five to six hours, with only one break between longer uses. I adjusted the elastic band several times, because the pressure of the helmet on my forehead was very painful. I've been repeating this for months: The main fault with the Vision Pro is its weight, and the rest is largely controlled by Apple.

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During landing, the Air France staff asked me to put the helmet away. I then noticed an increasing headache, probably due to muscle fatigue in my eyes, not neglecting the effect of 700 grams of constant pressure on my head. The human body was not created for this.

And the wired battery, which is mistakenly viewed as a disadvantage of headphones? Battery life is 2-3 hours, but I left it plugged into the plane's outlet the entire flight. In short, it wasn't a problem at all.

Experience Summary: The Apple Vision Pro is a fun way to stay busy on the plane, whether for work or play. I will use it when I return, despite my fear of being looked at by others, hoping that future versions will be more discreet and more acceptable on public transport (the box takes up 80% of my bag). Meta, with its affordable virtual reality headsets that will soon be suitable for airplanes, could also contribute to the acceptance of these portable cinemas.


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