Is Virtual Reality Becoming a Useful Tool?

2 minute read

(This is a raw brain dump. I just had to get it out there. Please excuse the roughness of it.)

VR isn’t new. But Apple showing Vision Pro handling text in a useful way could change the game. VR could actually become a very useful productivity tool.

They also solved my biggest frustration — the isolation. Being home alone with my eyes and ears completely blocked off felt creepy. This is no longer the case with Vision Pro.

What this opens is new kinds of user interfaces.

They only demoed making “virtual monitors” or showing ipad-like apps in space. They haven’t really evolved the UI beyond screens, at least for the demoed productivity apps like a web broser, notes, etc.

For example, I like using paper notes in certain scenarios, like when exploring an entire new area, or doing a large review. I write things on a bunch of little papers, and benefit from them being individual physical objects.

I can put them on piles, and see how many notes each has just by seeing how big it is. I can move them around. I can see multiple of them at the same time easily.

This is something I can’t do on a computer. For example, the Notes app is just one window with a menu. Sure, it can do multiple windows, but it’s never as convenient as the papers.

But Vision Pro could solve this, and more. We’re no longer constrained to screens. We can actually display individual notes (or anything!) anywhere.

So I could have my “physical” notes and the benefits of digital notes like search, sorting, or even some more advanced techniques like “hey computer, create new piles by topic and summarise what each pile is about”. And I’d visually see the result. I could save it if was useful, manipulate it, or ask it to try again differently. I could make physical connections between notes. etc.

And maybe I could have a nice physical-like timer, floating in space, ensuring I take regular breaks. That doesn’t need to be a window either.

All of that in an environment that’s visuall uniqiue to this kind of activity, helping my brain stay in focus.

And when I’m done, unlike with many papers on my desk, I just save and have it all disappear without dealing with the mess. And later I’ll be able to pick up where I left. Like having multiple physical desks or entire offices for different tasks!

And so many other things…

Do you remember the first computer UIs that tried to model the physical world? They’d show a desk with a little phone, a bookshelf with books in it, etc. We got past that and now we have well-known elements like a windows, icons, docks, menu bars, etc. Well, now it’s time to do that again.

Maybe we’ll get back closer to the physical world. Maybe we’ll invent new concepts. But I don’t believe flat iPad-like apps floating in space is the final state.