Apple’s Mixed Reality Reactions

As expected Apple unmasked its new mixed reality headset, now named Apple Vision Pro, at its annual World Wide Devleopers Conference this week. No surprise that the reactions have also been as expected with some giving new meaning to the old cliché about Apple’s reality distortion field and others being quite vocal with their negative reactions, especially as regards to that $3500 price point.

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I’ve been following along with some of the bloggers and journalists who got to try the headset on, experience the 30-minute demo and I have complied a series of links to some of the reactions. Keep in mind the responses from those who got strapped in are somewhat akin to folks reacting to a trailer for a new film. Folks are responding to a canned demo, acknowledging that, and the fact that Apple has a lot of work to do before this thing debuts to the public supposedly early in 2024.

I’ll have more to say about it at some point in the future based on my thoughts to these reactions.

Matthew Panzarino in TechCrunch says  Yes, Apple Vision Pro Works and Yes, It’s Good.

Jason Snell of Six Colors goes Eyes (and head) on with the Apple Vision Pro.

Joanna Stern in the Wall Street Journal had two reactions after the demo. “Wow. Very Cool” and “Did I just do drugs?”

John Gruber says the price might be an impediment to owning one. But the experience is something you’ll want to set aside some time to try it out.

Krista Jones in Esquire says she knew you could do futuristic FaceTime, but what she found the most interesting -shocking even-was how it made her feel. 

Harry McCracken in Fast Company gives us three things he learned and three things he didn’t about the new gizmo.

Jason Hiner on ZDNet says Apple Vision Pro is far ahead of where he expected it to be.

David Pogue on Medium brings up a recurring theme I’m seeing among those writing about these first experiences that say the device felt heavy after using it a bit in the 30 minute demo.

Roman Loyola of MacWorld didn’t want to leave the demo.

And you might want to watch this video review of the experience from MKBHD. 

There’s plenty more out there if you’re interested. There will be more digital ink spilled on this between now and the products eventual release than you can imagine. Bottom line themes I see emerging:

1. Amazing technology

2. Expensive

3. Weight is still an issue

4. Apple has lots of work to do before this releases and even more in the years ahead. They’ve staked out a vision and have the bankroll to advance it. It will be interesting to follow.

Sunday Morning Reading

Some complex, challenging, and excellent writing to share with you today covering everything from big picture politics to the small, media meanderings and meltdowns, and some interesting tech analysis heading into Apple’s big mixed reality headset announcement at its WorldWide Developer Conference tomorrow. Hope you find the suggestions fascinating. I do. 

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Chilling read. Ryan Busse, a former gun executive talks to ProPublica’s Corey G. Johnson about the danger of increasing radicalization in the industry

The subhead for this piece, “The view from nowhere came from somewhere” should have been the title instead of The Invention of Objectivity. Regardless Darrell Hartman lays out a good read about how “objectivity” came to the New York Times. Subjectively speaking pretending that journalism can be unbiased is not a bias I subscribe to. 

David Todd McCarthy walks along The Edge of Defeat in today’s political battles between progressives and establishment loyalists. Note: McCarthy is also setting up a new publication focusing on his political writings and musings called Rome Magazine. Also worth your time while the world burns. 

Peter Turchin in The Atlantic adapts some of his book End Times (a good read) into an article called America is Headed Toward Collapse. He argues that history can show us how to muck our way through our present day “discord” as we have done twice before. I’m not sure history is going to be so kind this time around. 

Anyone paying attention to the goings on at CNN leading up to and following the recent “town hall” featuring the conman known as the former president will find this behind the scenes feature by Tim Alberta in the Atlantic a fascinating read. The title certainly points to where it’s going: Inside the Meltdown at CNN

Big pictures are complex. Neil Theise’s book Notes on Complexity: A Scientific Theory of Connection, Concsicousness, and Being tackles some of that complexity. In this article he lays out five key insights from his book. 

Smart People are Falling for Stupid Lies by Kathryn Joyce in Vanity Fair is another article that racks the big picture political focus down to the view inside local battles in a specific county. These type of articles are enormously helpful in shedding light on the fact that the problems we face aren’t just top down but also bottom up, and how both feed the frenzy. Here’s another one from February in Politico about Ottawa Country, Michigan.

Om Malik tosses a bit of reality into the hype fire surrounding Apple’s headest to be unveiled tomorrow.

One more piece on Apple’s upcoming headset. David Pierce at the Verge says If Apple Wants Its Headset To Win, It Needs to Reinvent the App.I don’t agree with some of the things David lays out, but his central thesis is spot on.

If you’re interseted in just what the heck Sunday Morning Reading is all about you can read more about the origins of Sunday Morning Reading here

Apple WWDC Thoughts

Beginning June 5 Apple kicks off its annual World Wide Developers Conference, (WWDC). Apple will introduce new versions of its operating systems for current devices, but all of the excitement is focused on Apple’s AR/VR headset and the operating system that will run the thing. Mixed reality, augmented reality, virtual reality… who knows. I’m sure whatever it will be will somewhat unreal. I’ll certainly be interested to see how Apple tries to make it real, but it’s from a very backseat perspective. I just don’t see myself as being in the market for this kind of device/experience.

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Let’s face it, the next period of time is going to be focused very much on the headset and what it offers. Even though whatever Apple announces is probably going to be a years long effort towards what the product will eventually become. How that interacts with the existing ecosystem will be much more interesting for me.

To be honest, I’m not expecting much from iOS or macOS or any of their siblings. And I’m not sure anyone should. For better or worse these operating systems are quite mature. Sure there will be some new things, but for my money I’d prefer to see Apple keep tidying things up. Refining and striving for consistency are higher priorities for me than whiz bang new features.

I don’t have many big “wishes” for what I’d like to see. But I do have a few minor ones that would make my time in the orchard a bit easier.

Notifications are still problematic. Especially on the Mac. For goodness sake give us a button that allows us to bulk dismiss notifications like we can on iOS.

Last year saw some syncing up of features in Apple Mail between iOS and Mac. Keep it up. Also, make Rules work better and more consistently.

It’s time for a Clipboard Manager in the operating systems.

Bring Automations to Shortcuts on macOS.

Get rid of the consistent inconsistency with iCloud.

Fix Siri. Just do it.

The App Stores make much money for Apple and developers. It’s supposed to be a showplace. Clean it up. It should also run more efficiently than it does.

I’m hoping there will be some clarity and cleaning up of Stage Manager given that it feels very much like a building block for the AR/VR vision.

That’s it. That’s my wish list. Whatever reality we end up in after Monday I hope some of the above gets addressed.

Why Do We Love Shows About Bad People Like Succession and The Great?

Two nasty viewing pleasures came to an end this spring. Succession and The Great. Why do I call them “nasty?” Well, because they are both populated with nasty people doing nasty things to each other and everyone else with nary a glimpse of anything resembling a redeeming character that survives more than a few seconds in each.

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Both shows mix a milieu that features characters so above it all they can get away with all sorts of mischief including murder. Both shows slather on salaciousness to the point of impotence. Both stories feature folks who despise and disdain the masses so openly that it would embarrass Marie Antoinette.

And yet, both shows are deliciously and deliriously fun to watch and quite popular. Why is that? Do we just enjoy watching bad people behaving badly? Are we transferring our fantasies on to these characters? Are we deep down that sick, twisted, greedy and gluttonous? Is that the reflection we want to see in the mirror held up to our own nature?

The short answer is yes. Apparently.

I’m sure there are plenty of folks who don’t see the attraction in these characters and their shows. Even so there is something deep inside of many of us (enough of us?) that makes the villainy attractive and entertaining. Richard III is one of the greatest villains to ever parade around a stage. And he’s certainly entertaining. But like the Duke of Gloucester, villains usually get their comeuppance. Sometimes searching for a horse. Or in the case of Catherine, well…

Villains meet their end. Unless they’re primed for a series of sequels. And in the age of streaming series, I don’t think we want our villains to meet their end whether it be on a show or in real life.

Historically, there has always been a catharsis that purges our alliance and dalliance with the dark side when the house lights come up. We know that going in. There will be an end. The bad guys won’t win. In ancient entertainment the gods saw to that. These days, the show runners not so much. Our current moment is not serving comeuppance in the same way anymore.

The folks in Succession and The Great may have reached the end of their series, but there’s no real hint of their circumstances or the gods bringing them to heel. For the survivors there’s no suggestion of a change in their characters. The Roys are still richer than Croesus and Catherine is still empress of Russia. They and their respective courts will still bounce around behaving badly. They may all be living with the sting of regret from their choices and losses, but hey, nursing your wounds in palaces and island retreats sure beats having your head chopped off. Euripides would not be pleased. There’s no Butch and Sundance ending for these folks. The gluttony goes on.

And apparently we like our villainy viewing that way.

Oh sure, we love our heroes too. They may wear brightly colored costumes, but we underdress heroes in shades of gray tinted with flaws. So many (too many?) align with our real world heroes and villains because of their flaws not despite them. The more flawed they appear the greater the attraction. Substitute the word “human” for the word “flawed” in that last sentence and you can hold up that old mirror cliché and feel seen. Warts and all. It’s a fun house both on the screen and in real life. It makes me wonder why there’s such an interest in Alternate or Virtual Reality. We’ve already created it, and most of us actually have legs.

When it comes to the villains, the absence of consequences for those with money and power mocks anyone looking for the bad guys to get theirs in the end. It’s almost like you need to be a stupid villain to end up hoisted on your own petard. Currently we’ve cornered the market on celebrating stupid villains, misplacing craft and cunning with stupid and bumbling.

The lust for guile, guilt, and gluttony used to exist within some sort of security blanket wrapping us in that comforting myth that things would turn out in the end. Those bad guys weren’t like us. We couldn’t be that stupid or evil. Could we? Maybe we just wish we could.

Sunday Morning Reading

I’m kicking back this Memorial Day weekend and reading a bit less on the Internet. So this Sunday Morning Reading edition doesn’t feature articles of interest. Instead it features links to a few folks I follow for their writing and creativity. I’d recommend you take a look at their stuff as well. 

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Stan Stewart is a musician, poet, and does some nice photoraphy on his site Muz4Now. He’s always putting out something worth your time.

David Todd McCarthy is a writer I’ve come to know since jumping on to Mastodon last year. He’s opinionated, always fun, and occasionally infuriating. But you’ll come away glad you walked in the door. You can find him on Medium

Jason Kottke is one of the original bloggers from back in the day when everyone was asking what a blog was. If you’re looking for something/anything that might pique your interest, you’ll certainly find it at

If you’re interested in tech, especially Apple tech as well as some interesting takes on some cultural things surrounding us, you might want to check out M.G. Siegler on 

If you’re interseted in just what the heck Sunday Morning Reading is all about you can read more about the origins of Sunday Morning Reading here

Significant Insignificance

Humbling would be one way to describe it. Grounding might be another. Or maybe you just don’t have the TIME to think about how really insignifcant your moments on this planet measure up to all that’s come before. Regardless, this short film, To Scale: TIME should shed a little light and add some perspective. 

Flimmakers Alex Gorosh and Wylie Overstreet went to the desert to try and explain our place as humans on the timeline of the universe and it’s certainly worth a look-see. Don’t worry. It’s only 10 minutes and 19 seconds long. So, it shouldn’t take up too much of your TIME. 

To Subscribe or Not Subscribe? That’s the App Question

Apple is releasing iPad versions of its Pro apps, Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro this week. For the uninitiated “Pro” is typically code for an expenisve, full featured app for professional users. Final Cut Pro for the Mac runs you $300. Logic Pro will set you back $200. It’s an investment.


Users have wished, requested, and even demanded that Apple release iPad versions of these two apps for Apple’s top of the line iPad Pro line. Heck, many even point to the lack of native iPad versions of these apps as proof of Apple’s lack of committment to the iPad. So, on May 9th when Apple announced that these two apps would be available for iPad Pro users on May 23 there was a rush of excitement about the release and also a hesitant holding of breath while examining the pricing.

That pricing, while lower than the Mac versions, ushered in a new era for Apple’s own apps: Subscription pricing. That raised some grumbles of discontent that Apple was releasing these two long awaited apps and for the first time using subscription pricing. Each app will be available for $4.99 a month or $49 a year. There’s also a one-month free trial.

The grumbles come from a lot of folks who don’t like the app subscription model. Some are quite vehement about it. For that crowd paying an annual or monthly price to use an app seems a bit too far. And since subscription pricing became more and more predominant there have been complaints from many users who don’t like to see an existing app that may have once been free, or purchased for a one-time cost go down this path. There are arguments aplenty on all sides of this issue. I’m not going to rehash any of those here.

Admittedly when subscription pricing for apps began to take hold I went back and forth on whether this was a good thing or not. But then after a few apps I use religiously chose this path I began to reframe how I thought about subscription pricing.

Where my thinkng landed rested on two points.

First, the value proposition: If I’m paying $X.XX a month for an app does it provide value to me? If yes, subscribing was no big deal. If not, it was easy enough to not subscribe or cancel.

Second: If this was a new app that looked promising, Apple’s App Store policies make it easy enough to try out the app and then cancel the subscription if it doesn’t offer enough value to reside in my toolbox.

Along the App-ian way of subscription pricing we’re starting to see some apps offer a free trial period. Typically they aren’t as lengthy as Apple’s one-month trial for these two apps, but generally they provide ample time to avoid committing if you’re unsure. Even so, signing up to test a new app for a month isn’t going to break my bank. Your bank balance may vary.

Extending these thoughts a bit, there’s another advantage to subscription pricing. That comes in measuring the success and potential future of an app for the developer. If enough users subscribe in the initial rush on a per-month basis and then choose to unsubscribe after the first month or so, the developer of that app should have a pretty good idea of the marketplace for the app going forward. Some users won’t try the app out until later, but I would think that after six months or so a developer should know whether or not to continue to commit resources to an app or not. It’s like up or down voting on an app but using your dollars to do the voting.

Of course using dollars is an important choice for users. Subscription fatigue is a real thing. So are budgets. And in the case of trying out new apps there are some things to think about.

1. Don’t sign on for an annual subscription, even though there is typically a discount for doing so. Use the month to month option if you’re trying things out. Sure it costs you a little more per month, but you maintain your flexibility.

2. Just know that app subscription pricing like any other type of subscription (streaming services in particular) or other monthly services (utilities, etc…) the price is eventually going to increase. It’s like taxes and death. It’s a given. When you hear of a price increase, it’s a good time to reexamine the value you’re getting out of the app.

3. Don’t wait until the end of a subscription period to cancel the app subscription. Once you’re sure the app won’t be something you want to keep paying for, cancel the subscription. If you’re unsure but leaning against keeping the subscription you’ll still have a portion of the month you subscribed in to test out the app.

4. Just like with media streaming services if you need an app for a specific job or not you can subscribe and then cancel. No one is going to turn your money down if you need to resubscribe in the future.

The bottom line for me is I’m not hesitant to try out apps with subscriptions if they are on the App Store.

There’s an interesting thread running on Mastodon started by Matt Birchler and picked up by John Gruber, Jason Snell and others if you roam with the Mastodons and have more thoughts on this.

Apple iCloud Migraines Continue

Earlier this month I posted about iCloud issues preventing a number of services from working. The issues continued to plague me and other users. Apple support personnel had no answers and dealing with them proved…well let’s just call it less than satisfactory.

Apple recently released updates to all of its many devices on May 18 and lo and behold included in the release notes was this little gem.

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Hope? Relief? Too early to tell. Losing the ability to sign in with an Apple Watch was usually the first indicator something was wrong. As mentioned in that earlier report this seemingly random disconnecting from some iCloud services was just that: random. And though I pinned the issue on a previous series of Ventura updates it didn’t manifest until few days after I had installed the updates. 

So I installed these new updates and crossed my fingers. For a day things seemed fine. Two days in though the problems resurfaced on the MacBook Air. A reboot has so far solved that. (There had been multiple reboots since installing the latest updates.) Three days in the issues returned to the iMac. Again a reboot seems to have solved things. For the moment. 

We’ll see how things roll going forward, but I’m guessing this isn’t solved yet. Neither are Apple’s support issues. Which is another story for another day.

Sunday Morning Reading

Some Sunday Morning Reading to share. If you’re new to this now regular feature on Wicked Stage, you can read more about the origins of Sunday Morning Reading here. As always, it’s a varied collection of links. Some I find fun. Some informative. Some just weird. Regardless they caught my attention and I hope they catch yours. 

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The Debt Limit is Just One of American’s Six Worst Traditions. Lots of talk about the US Debt Limit debate at the moment. Here’s a look from John Schwarz and others at The Debt Limit and five other silly/stupid/bad political traditions in the US. Bet you’ll learn something from this one.

The Story Behind the Chicago Newspaper That Bought a Bar. Great read about a newspaper’s investigative unit and the lengths they went to exposing some Chicago backroom political shenanigans. By Andy Wright.

Why The Supreme Court is Blind to Corruption. By Randall Eliason in the NY Times. 

And while we’re talking about the Supreme Court. How about an article from Gillian Brockell discussing the only impeachment of a Supreme Court Justice in an article called: Can a Supreme Court Justice Be Impeached? Meet ‘Old Bacon Face.’

The Battle of Beach Rowdies, B-Girls, and Disorderly Women. An excerpt from Robert Loerzel’s series on The Coolest Spot in Chicago: A History of Green Mill Gardens and the Beginnings of Uptown. (You can find much more on his site by following his links. Well worth your time.)

Rudy Giuliani, Timothy McVeigh, and Sexual Abuse. Teri Canfield weaves a few threads together, that should remind us all just how tangled this twisted mess we’re dealing with today really is.  

The Song That Spawned the Four Chords of Pop by Tim Coffman. Fun stuff. 

This Little-known Rule Shapes Parking in America. Cities Are Reversing It. By Nathaniel Myerson. “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot…”

Apple announced some very interesting new accessibility features coming later this year. John Vorhees of MacStories did an interview with David Niemeijer of AssistiveWare, a company that makes augmentative and alternative communication apps for the iPhone and the iPad about how these kind of features can beneift real-world users. 

Book Banning is all the rage. Not for the first time. Check out Book Bans Soared in the 70’s, too. The Supreme Court Stepped In. By Anthony Aycock. 

Have a good week. 

Pocket Begins The Internet Dance of Death

Damn. I hate it when this happens. An app that has been a useful part of my Internet dance routine decides it’s time to join the algorithm dance party so it can recommend “things I might like.” Pocket, an app that has long been one of my partners has sashayed onto that crowded recommendation engine dance floor. Which essentially means it will eventually disappear from my dance card.

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Pocket began it’s life as an app called appropriately “Read It Later.” It’s flirted with all sorts of changes along the way, adding a paid premium version in 2014. Pocket was integrated into the Firefox browser awhile back and then acquired by Mozilla in 2017, Up to now Pocket has avoided the lure of the recommendation algorithm dance party. But no longer. They began rolling out this change to Android users In January and are now introducing it to iOS users this month. 

Pocket works on all of my devices so when I see an article I want to read I use an extentsion to save it to Pocket so I can read it when I have the time and on the device that is most convenient when I find that time. I’ve been using it for quite awhile and it is at the top of my Billboard Top 10 list of apps I install on a new device.

To be fair, many apps end up chasing new dance partners. In order to keep paying the bills the money has to come from somewhere, whether it be advertising, raising prices or venture capital. At the moment there is still a free version of Pocket. So the origins and functionality of the service still exist.

Here’s my complaint. Pocket is turning into a recommendation engine first and deemphasizing the “Read Later” functionality. All you have to do is look at the new UI on a mobile device and while “Recent Save” is at the top, the page is designed to take you to “Editors’ Picks.” Those “Editors’ Picks” are curated. Call me cynical, and probably unfair, but I’m guessing that curation is done by algrothim. Call me even more cynical but when a service tells me that it is making a change to provide me with “topics you care about” I translate that into “links that serve the service first and not the user.”

Thursday 18 May 2023 10 46 44Be honest. Do you actually rely on recommendation engines? Sure, occasionally they’ll surface something of interest. But in my experience they mostly serve up more of the same the way that Amazon and streaming media services do. Like a bad DJ who doesn’t know how to keep the mix fresh and exciting and just spins the same old same old. I can’t begin to list the number of apps I once used that have danced their way into an uninstall this way.

It’s not an original dance step. It’s become a tired one. Sure most love to hear the DJ spin up “The Chicken Dance” at a wedding. But do they actually put it on their own personal playlist? By and large, while it may increase revenue (again not a bad thing) in the short term I’ve yet to find an app or a service in this drunken conga line that I don’t at some point scratch from my dance card. Bluntly, I could care less what Pocket’s “editors” think I should see, or what other users think I should see.

Obviously nothing lasts forever, especially in Internet years. But I’d love to see this dance party be one that wears out its welcome sooner rather than later.