April 24, 2024

Of course, there are some photos that show the goggles looking very stylish against the black background. There’s a neat video showing various happy people using the product in the comfort of their pristine rose-colored homes and anonymous hotel rooms.

But the absence of a real person strutting the product on stage in Cupertino, California, was a glaring omission. The fact that no one is talking about design other than functionality — and the fact that the device allows others to see the wearer’s eyes is a real step forward in the field of headphone style. (They also didn’t utter the word “wearables.”)

However, if there’s one company that should know how important aesthetics are in turning a piece of technology into a lifestyle accessory, it’s Apple. That’s always been part of what sets it apart, starting with the iMac in a variety of colors. This is how the iPod and iPhone leapfrogged from consumer goods to symbols of taste and status. They look really nice with their rounded corners and slender lines; so sleek and cool. They inspire desire as much as a great handbag, even before practicality is considered.

Perhaps no device Apple has made has put as much emphasis on aesthetics as this one.

There is no hiding it.That’s probably why tech companies are struggling with glasses, an accessory they seem to believe is the next frontier in personal tech, but no one has ever quite cracked it: not Google Glass or Meta and Ray-Ban cooperation modelsspeech or Balmain x Oculus. If the eyes are the windows to the soul, then what you place around them can have some sort of profound effect.

By making the Vision Pro look like goggles, Apple is wading into the shallows of preexisting stereotypes, personality clichés, and history. We choose glasses for a variety of reasons: to look smart, to look cool, to look glamorous; to look like Gloria Steinem, Jack Nicholson, or John Lennon. Most importantly, look with personality. Walking around with glass covering half your face, no matter how swirly the screen, is the hallmark of a pod person. (On the other hand, if you secretly fantasize about looking like Eileen Gu, this might be for you.)

In fairness, maybe that will change. Maybe by the time the headphones go on sale next year, priced at around $3,500, the headband will be available in a variety of colors and materials, and the device itself will come in a different shade than putty, allowing for some form of self-expression. Maybe goggles Dazzle (that would be fun) or add stickers or decorative rope. Apple has clearly put a lot of effort into the fit, with a variety of adjustable components, which is important. And it weighs only about a pound.

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