Recently, Hugo Barra, a former head of Oculus at Meta (the parent company of Facebook), explained in detail what he thinks about Apple’s first spatial computer, the Vision Pro, which Apple unveiled on 5 June 2023.

Hugo Barra is a well-known technology executive who has held leadership positions at several prominent companies in the tech industry. He currently serves as a Partner at Develop Advisors, a venture capital firm focused on investing in early-stage startups in the Web3, gaming, and consumer technology sectors. Prior to joining Develop Advisors, Barra was the Vice President of Reality Labs Partnerships at Meta (formerly Facebook), where he led the company’s efforts in virtual and augmented reality partnerships and content.

Before his role at Meta, Barra served as the Vice President of Virtual Reality at Facebook, overseeing the development and launch of the Oculus Go and Oculus Quest VR headsets. He also played a key role in the company’s acquisition of Oculus VR in 2014.

Earlier in his career, Barra held senior positions at Xiaomi, a leading Chinese smartphone manufacturer, where he served as Vice President of International from 2013 to 2017. During his tenure at Xiaomi, he was responsible for the company’s global expansion efforts and helped establish the brand’s presence in key markets such as India and Indonesia.

Prior to Xiaomi, Barra worked at Google for over five years, where he held various roles including Vice President of Android Product Management. In this position, he was responsible for the development and launch of several versions of the Android operating system and worked closely with hardware partners to bring Android devices to market.

In a recent blog post, the former Vice President of Virtual Reality at Meta, shared his in-depth review of the Apple Vision Pro. With his extensive experience in the VR industry, including his tenure at Meta overseeing the development of the Oculus Quest lineup, Barra offers a unique perspective on Apple’s entry into the spatial computing market.

Barra begins by praising the Vision Pro’s display quality, noting that it is the first VR headset to offer a nearly pixel-free experience. He highlights the impressive micro-OLED displays with a resolution of 3660 x 3200 pixels per eye, which significantly reduces the screen door effect and pixelation artifacts that have plagued previous VR headsets. However, Barra also points out that Apple intentionally made the display slightly blurry to hide any remaining pixelation, sacrificing some text crispness in favor of smoother overall graphics.

One of the most significant drawbacks of the Vision Pro, according to Barra, is the motion blur and image quality issues in passthrough mode. He notes that these problems render the passthrough mode unusable for extended periods, which could limit the headset’s potential for productivity and mixed reality applications. In comparison, Barra mentions that the Meta Quest 3 offers a better passthrough experience with less motion blur and distortion.

Barra also delves into the Vision Pro’s software and content ecosystem, expressing disappointment in the lack of exciting AR apps and games at launch. He argues that Apple’s decision to focus solely on AR use cases and exclude immersive VR games from the Vision Pro app store may have painted the product into an “empty corner.” This contrasts with the Meta Quest’s extensive library of immersive VR content, which has been a key driver of its success.

However, Barra does praise Apple’s new human interface guidelines for gaze and pinch interactions, calling it a “UI superpower” that feels effortless and intuitive. He compares this innovation to the introduction of multi-touch on the original iPhone, suggesting that it could become a new standard for VR interaction.

Regarding productivity, Barra believes that the Vision Pro has the potential to replace an iPad Pro for some users, thanks to its ability to run multiple iPad apps simultaneously. However, he notes that there are still significant usability issues and missing apps that prevent it from being a complete alternative. In contrast, Barra mentions that the Quest Pro, with its mixed reality capabilities and compatibility with productivity apps, may be better suited for work-related use cases.

Barra also discusses the Vision Pro’s potential for media consumption, particularly with the introduction of the Apple Immersive Video format. While he praises the format’s ability to create a sense of presence and transport users to different environments, he cautions that the hyperrealism may lead to an uncanny valley effect, making some content feel uncomfortable or overwhelming.

Finally, Barra touches on the Vision Pro’s price point, acknowledging that its $3,499 price tag makes it a niche product for developers and early adopters. He contrasts this with the more affordable Quest 3, which starts at $499, making it more accessible to a broader consumer market.

Featured Image via Apple