VISION PRO DELIGHTS AND DISGUSTS.
In this week’s What’s Appening, we cover Apple’s long-anticipated release of the Vision Pro. We have been trying out the AR headsets at 3Advance, and we share our thoughts on what works and what doesn’t. Without a doubt, this new product is spectacular, but is it a niche toy, or is it for the masses? Both probably, but not yet. Elsewhere, we look at Yelp, a business now incorporating AI into its model, but one that faces a threat from that very technology. We’ve news on Meta profits, GoDaddy integrating ENS, and new features from Beehiiv. Our Stat looks at AI’s growing importance in funding pitches. And What’s dAppening has good news for FTX customers - they will be getting (some) of their money back.
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🍏🥽 Apple – 3Advance’s Thoughts After Testing Vision Pro
Vision Pro has arrived, and, as you might expect, it was a bumper day for memes on social media. The ribbing is fair, but Google Glass this is not. And we know because we have taken Vision Pro for a test drive. Kayne and Paul were first to jump in, and first impressions were spectacular: Standing on the cliffs by Norwegian fjords and walking with dinosaurs immediately show off the undeniably fantastic immersive experience. From the outset it’s clear that Vision Pro is leaps (pun intended) and bounds ahead of the competition, but it comes at a price. Yes, the $3500 dollar figure is too high for the masses, but there’s more. It is, like other commentators have said, heavy and bulky. This means that after an hour or two, a confusing tiredness creeps in. Up until then, however, the experience is unparalleled, and brilliant. We’ll stay away from the obvious gaming use cases here and focus on usability, productivity, and America’s still favorite pastime - watching TV. The first thing you’ll notice with Vision Pro is the superb quality, resolution, and the simple navigation that makes onboarding a breeze. It feels truly magic to just look at a button, touch your fingers together, and initiate an action. As Steve Jobs would say, “It just works”. It really does. It takes a while to reliably figure out how to drop down the control center (similar to iOS), but once you do, recording your session, connecting your MacBook, or streaming to a TV is possible. This way you can fully show off what you’re up to. ;)
TechCrunch’s description of Vision Pro as the “infinite desktop” is legit. Huge picture-perfect browser windows and apps allow almost unlimited screens, from Word docs to Slack chat, Photos to FaceTime. Your Mac suddenly has a beautiful, huge, movable display and you can get to work immediately. While it’s not quite perfect, it’s very close, though there are important improvements that are hopefully on the way. Vision Pro does not integrate seamlessly with all your Apple products just yet… Copy+Paste is currently impossible between devices and while we can use our MacBook keyboard, the absence of iPhone integration is frustrating. We’re also missing all the apps that haven’t been ported over (Netflix! Where art thou?). The Safari browsing experience is terrific, but native (or React Native - yep, it’s already possible 💪) apps still offer a vastly improved use experience, especially for entertainment. The quicker Apple can convince app developers to get on board, the better. Sitting in the Great Hall of the Red Keep sure beats a web browser for watching some Game of Thrones action!
Overall, this tech is almost perfect, but yet, it’s not. It’s a solo experience. If you’re in an office, or a house with other real humans, this is going to get you in trouble. Zoom and FaceTime are awesome — for you, but for the person on the other end, Apple’s “Personas” are truly awful. Yes, it’s in “Beta” (ironically, as Apple outright rejects any App Store submissions that include any such “beta” language). The artificially generated version of “you” that others see, while incredible at mimicking gestures, is still horribly creepy. Having said that, as tech evolves, so will improvements to how the device looks from the outside, and how your “Persona” will look on the inside. We expect Generative-AI to really impact the quality of these avatars very soon, while the weight and bulkiness will take much longer to solve. As will the social response to wearing this thing, because like it or not, an AR world is coming. Vision Pro has just proved that. #VisionProIsHere Read more here.
AI – Yelp Introduces AI Summaries and Personal Recommendations
At first glance, we thought that Yelp’s announcement of using AI to jazz up its directory and recommendation services was a story of little note. After all, everyone from Amazon to Zara is doing the same. But then we realized that the stakes are high as Yelp is exactly the kind of business that faces an existential threat from AI. Why trawl through an ad-funded directory when you can simply ask ChatGPT to do the work for you? The changes do make Yelp better, employing AI to provide succinct summaries of reviews and deliver more personalization. But we’ll be intrigued to see what Yelp’s business model looks like five to ten years from now. The concept of “Discovery” is Yelp’s core business, yet it is also AI’s most fundamental use case. How the company adapts to AI challenges – from within and without – is key to its future. #YelpAI Read more here.
🗞️ The Best of the Rest: Other News in Brief
📈 Meta Breaks Stock Market Record. On Friday, Mark Zuckerberg made around $28 billion in the time it takes you to have your breakfast. It came as Meta stock surged 20%, adding around $200 billion – the biggest single-day gain in stock market history. Find out why here.
🤝 GoDaddy Allows Users to Link Domain Names to ENS. An important story for bridging Web 2 to web3 here. Website builder GoDaddy has partnered with ENS (Ethereum Name Service) to allow users to link domain names to their ENS names, which connect directly to crypto wallets. Details here.
🐝 Beehiiv Releases Host of New Features. The platform that makes this wonderful newsletter possible each week? That’s Beehiiv, and it has released a range of new features for newsletter creators like us and lovely end-users like you. Check ‘em out here.
⚾🗣️ AI – Top VCs Claim Four-Fifths of Pitches They Receive Involve AI
“To be fair, if you were building a company in 1996 and you didn’t mention the internet, you’d be out of your mind, right?” So said Mamoon Hamid speaking after the recent StrictlyVC event in San Francisco, where he pointed out that over 80% of pitches they receive involve AI. Surprising? No. But it’s more evidence of what’s bubbling under the surface. An explosion of AI-powered businesses, apps, and services is en route. #AIVCs Read more here.
🎁💰 FTX – Customers Expected to Get (Some) Money Back from Collapsed Exchange
Some good news for the customers hit by the collapse of the FTX crypto exchange. After negotiations with the government and administrators, the exchange has agreed to pay customers back “in full” before moving on to pay other debts. Is there a catch? Absolutely. By “in full”, they mean the USD value of your crypto at the time of collapse (November 2022). And as it so happens, that was the absolute rock bottom for crypto this cycle. Bitcoin is worth about three times as much today, for example. Still, many, including pension funds, never thought they would see a dime back from Sam Bankman-Fried’s scandalous operation. A small victory. #FTXRefunds Read more here.
It’s that time of the month again. We just wrapped up January, so Kate and Paul caught up to share the highlights of the month. We talk Custom GPTs, AI music videos, and of course Vision Pro! Check it out on YouTube and let us know what you think.
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