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By Michelai Graham Boardroom's Tech Reporter
February 4, 2024
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Tech Talk is a weekly digest by Boardroom’s Michelai Graham that breaks down the latest news from the world’s biggest tech companies and the future of industry-shaping trends like AI.
I’m spicing it up a bit today in light of the Apple Vision Pro launch this week. I got to partake in some exclusive experiences throughout the week, so I wanted to detail and download everything I learned for you all. Let’s jump right into it.
A peek into today’s edition:
My Apple Vision Pro Review (finally!)
Big Tech CEOs on Capitol Hill
UMG vs TikTok rages on
Believe the Hype: The Apple Vision Pro is Here & It's a Game Changer
“MVP! MVP! MVP!”
That’s what the staffers at Apple Fifth Avenue were chanting for Apple CEO Tim Cook as he walked up to open the doors of the store to customers eager to get their hands on the Apple Vision Pro on Friday morning. Cook shook hands with early adopters of his company’s newest device, spending about an hour in the store interacting with customers and the media. Every way I turned in the store, there were excited customers unboxing their Vision Pros, doing demos, and spectating the electric scenery.
Entertainment and the freedom to work on multiple screens were the top two things people told me they were most excited about experiencing with the Vision Pro. It was very obvious to me that the majority of the early Vision Pro adopters were tech enthusiasts, coders, legacy Apple supporters, and entertainment fanatics. I was excited to be in the room and on the ground, covering a historic moment. After testing out the Vision Pro myself this week, I have one piece of advice for the skeptical people out there: Believe the hype.
My Review of the Apple Vision Pro
I’ve been covering the Apple Vision Pro‘s rollout since the day the new device was announced last June at WWDC 2023. Ahead of the Vision Pro launch, Boardroom received an exclusive demo of the device on Thursday. I got a one-hour experience and even had to share my eye prescription ahead of it so the headset would be personally calibrated for me. Right off the bat, it was simple and easy to get used to the iris control and finger taps to click and move items around. The Vision Pro is truly a spatial computer, and I was able to control how immersed I wanted to be in the virtual space compared to being able to see the physical space around me.
I mostly interacted with apps native to Vision Pro, which truly leaned into making a spatial computing experience. I was able to select immersive backgrounds, and I was impressed by the device’s ability to handle multiple screens at once. I had screens positioned all around me, though typing is definitely a task I’ll have to get used to.
Watching movies in the Vision Pro exceeded my expectations. I felt like I was at the movie theater with the best seats in the house, and don’t get me started on the video quality. The imagery was top-tier. Aside from getting up close with a dinosaur that made me forget it wasn’t really in front of me and a butterfly landing on the tip of my finger, the NBA League Pass experience was, by far, my favorite thing I got to try.
Honestly, the only thing I was missing out on was interacting with my friends and other users, which I’m sure there will be updates and apps that allow for that down the line.
While I thoroughly enjoyed my experience, I left that demo thinking: Who is this device actually for, and how will Apple market it to the masses? I can’t imagine kids or someone my mom’s age investing in a device like this at this stage.
I got a couple of insights into these questions when I joined Cook and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver at the NBA HQ on Friday afternoon for an exclusive experience with the development team that built the Vision Pro version of NBA League Pass. Chad Evans, NBA SVP Head of Product, along with Senior Software Engineers Lauren Marshall and Matthew Parrott, presented their work on building out NBA League Pass from the Vision Pro. Evans told me that a core team of six engineers, designers, and product managers worked on the NBA League Pass app for the Vision Pro.
“We really wanted to be there for the launch because we think it’s really important for fans to get their hands on the experience,” Evans told Boardroom. “I love statistics and the way stats can help you build a deeper understanding of the game. We actually rebuilt our core stats engine so that we can have real-time stats in sync with all of the videos you’re watching. That experience just makes the app feel alive.”
Following the demo, I asked Cook and Silver one question from all of the learnings I gathered about the Vision Pro: What do you think the future of sports and entertainment is in this new spatial computing universe, and how will you get fans to invest in it?
“I think it’s more immersive than ever before; I think the fan wants to be a part of the game and a part of the action, and there’s nothing like being in Vision Pro and feeling like you’re on the court,” Cook exclusively told me. “It’s not that you have a courtside seat; it’s so much better than that. I’m so excited. I think it really changes everything.”
Silver doubled down on that.
“You often hear, even from casual NBA fans, that the best seat in all of sports is a courtside seat, which virtually no one gets to experience. As Tim said, this is in many ways better than sitting courtside; it can take you anywhere on the floor, it can give you the perspective of a player, and it can give you places you can otherwise never go and absorb it,” Silver told me. “It can give you the perspective of a player; it can give you places you can otherwise never go and absorb it. “These are, of course, early days, but it is transformative. This will, to me, be how people over time experience sports through media.”
I have more insights to share from my experience with the Apple team this week, but one thing is clear to me after my experience this week: Apple is all in on entertainment for the Vision Pro.
Expect more from me on the new device very soon.
Big Tech CEOs from Meta, TikTok, Snap, Discord, and X were in the hot seat on Wednesday during a Senate hearing focused on the harm young users face online and policies meant to protect them. Meta‘s Mark Zuckerberg and TikTok’s Shou Zi Chew got most of the heat from Senators looking to pass a bill that would put more liability on social platforms when young users experience harm online.
Amazon mutually agreed with iRobot to call off its planned acquisition of the Roomba maker. As a result, iRobot founder and CEO Colin Angle announced he is stepping down, and the company has cut 31% of its workforce, which is 350 people.
Elon Musk reported on X that the first human has received a Neuralink brain-computer interface, a device that’s implanted into the brain and allows users to control external computers, robotic products, and mobile devices. The patient is a part of Neuralink’s first human trial for its flagship device.
Also, a Delaware judge sided with Tesla shareholders who filed a lawsuit against Elon Musk to block his 2018 pay package, which included a whopping $56 billion salary that was previously approved by the company’s board.
TikTok has a master plan to boost shopping and in-app sales by opening live studios across major cities like LA that allow creators to come in and livestream products they are pushing to sell. The company is also working on a new feature that would allow users to feature links to products in their videos.
OpenAI’s ChatGPTannounced a partnership with children’s safety org Common Sense Media to develop AI guidelines, educational materials, and a kid-friendly section in the GPT Store.
Universal Music Group decided to pull its music library from TikTok this week after the parties failed to reach a new agreement on royalties for artists and songwriters. I’m going to bet that UMG will return to the short-form video platform by the end of Q1 since it’s been able to reach deals with every other social network on the market.