Battery? What Battery? Oh, That Battery.

Lauren Goode, writing at Wired:

Apple seems to not want you to notice the battery. The external battery pack barely appears on the product page on Apple’s website, showing up only at the end of a photo gallery at the bottom of the page. And in demo sessions this week, Apple told journalists they were not allowed to snap photos or capture any video of the hardware, an unusual rule for a press briefing. Instead, the company had its own photographer take photos during the Vision Pro demos. Every photo you’ve seen this week of reporters sitting on a couch while wearing the headset were shot by Apple.

Notably, the battery pack doesn’t appear in any of them. One attendee chose to run the attached cable down the back of his sweatshirt. In another shared image, of The Verge’s Nilay Patel, the cable is clearly visible, but the photo is cropped to avoid showing the battery pack. Chokkattu experienced this too; he set the Vision Pro’s battery pack on the couch cushion next to him during his demo, but in the photo Apple shared with us, the offending pack is cropped out of the frame.

To Apple’s credit, they weren’t at all cagey about this when they took my picture using Vision Pro Tuesday. They asked if I’d like photos taken by their photographer (who used an iPhone 15 Pro), I said sure, and they suggested draping the battery cable behind my back. It’s not just Apple being weird about the external battery; it’s that the external battery is weird. So of course their photography is going to de-emphasize it.

Almost every first-generation product has things like this* — glaring deficiencies dictated by the limits of technology. The original Mac had far too little RAM (128 KB) and far too little storage (a single 400 KB single-sided floppy disk drive). The original iPhone only supported 2G EDGE cellular networking, which was unfathomably slow and didn’t work at all while you were on a voice call. The original Apple Watch was very slow and struggled to last a full day on a single charge. The external battery pack — which only supplies 2 to 2.5 hours of battery life — is that for this first-gen Vision Pro. Also, the Vision Pro headset itself — without any built-in battery — is still too big and too heavy.

Paul Graham has a wonderful adage:

Don’t worry what people will say. If your first version is so impressive that trolls don’t make fun of it, you waited too long to launch.

* The original iPod is the exception that proves the rule. That little thing was, as Steven Levy’s excellent book aptly declared, perfect.

Friday, 19 January 2024