Apple's Ads Point To Fundamental Features Of Life With VR And AR

A lot of people felt crushed by Apple’s latest iPad ad.

Like a magic trick without the prestige, Apple’s much-discussed spot shows an entire stage full of creative tools and instruments smashed down into a thin plate of touch-sensitive glass.

On X, former Apple researcher Sterling Crispin joked “crushing symbols of human creativity and cultural achievements to appeal to pro creators, nice. Maybe for the next Apple Watch Pro you should crush sports equipment, show a robot running faster than a man, then turn to the camera and say, ‘God is dead and we have killed him'”.

In another Apple spot, a costumed mandalorian walks down the street to the beat of their own music, straight through the reflection of a mirrored building, and without missing a single step they blast through a crowd of suited men. Free of society as we know it, we then see and hear the first glimpses of Disney intellectual property worn by other people in Apple’s universe. Finally, faced with an overwhelming crowd of like-minded Star Wars fans, the mandalorian pulls an iPhone out of their holster to wayfind directly to their clan.

You don’t see Apple’s answer to Beat Saber and Facebook here? Ok, I get it. Neither of these ads are for games or visionOS, and they don’t mention VR or AR, so I guess it’s easy not to see the connection. But isn’t “find your friends” a pretty direct statement when viewed in opposition to $100 billion of investment spent over the last decade in a new computing platform from Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg?

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Another spot actually shows Vision Pro in a real-world use case – flying through the air and watching Apple’s subscription-attached Napoleon film on a virtual screen larger than anything in first class. In fact, the screen is larger than some movie theaters with a picture that’s also probably brighter.

New Apple Vision Pro ad

— M1 (@M1Astra) February 5, 2024

Not pictured? The $3,500 price tag. Instead: “A movie theater. Wherever you are.”

Long-time Apple product-marketing director Frank Casanova retired after Vision Pro’s launch, according to Bloomberg, and WWDC is coming up next month to unveil the company’s next steps. Meanwhile, Apple added a gyroscope-equipped Pencil Pro to the lineup after supporting ultra-low latency audio to Vision Pro in last year’s AirPods Pro refresh.

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Many felt crushed seeing all those beautiful instruments of creativity from the 20th century smashed by Apple’s marketing department with such gleeful abandon. Many others, meanwhile, have somehow decided Apple CEO Tim Cook is already ready to abandon its spatial computing efforts just a few months in. Or is Cook ready pull out all the stops in competition with Meta?

Apple might not use terms like AR or VR very often, but you can still see glimpses of a larger picture in these ads. Viewed altogether, Apple’s vision for the future of its computing platforms in VR & AR services is only beginning to surface.

To continue the analogy of a magic trick, Cook made a “pledge” by shipping Apple Vision Pro earlier this year and these ads show us the “turn” in disruptions to creativity, work, and travel. These ads challenge whether the 20th century’s tools and social norms were actually the best we could do, and that discomfort you feel in seeing it coming at you is by design.

“Making something disappear isn’t enough; you have to bring it back.”

And that’s why everyone, even the Metamates or Apple haters, await the “prestige” in the third act of this particular magic trick.