Please, Don't Walk Around Outside Wearing an Apple Vision Pro

Or while driving. Or skateboarding. Or cooking. It may be trendy, but it's completely wrong.

Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
Expertise VR and AR | Gaming | Metaverse technologies | Wearable tech | Tablets Credentials
  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Scott Stein
7 min read
Apple Vision Pro AR/VR headset

Take my advice: use these indoors, in a safe place.

Josh Goldman/CNET

I wore Apple's Vision Pro on a train from New Jersey to New York. Briefly. Not even to use, just to see how it fit. That few seconds was enough. I put it away again. I felt as awkward as anyone would feel with a futuristic $3,499 wearable computer on my face in public.

The Apple Vision Pro has sparked all sorts of reactions in just a few weeks, from amazement to fury. Amid these takes have been, of course, the wearers. People in public, in malls, walking robot dogs, in downtown Tokyo, skiing, on scooters, in Cybertrucks and even behind the wheel of a car. The Vision Bros. The New Glassholes. Whatever you want to call them, it needs to stop.

You can't really stop anyone from doing things for the likes or the views or the lulz. I can try, though. Please, please, stop doing this. Please.

I've worn many headsets over the years, and I test-drive the future a lot. There are several reasons why you shouldn't do this. Obvious reasons. Not the least of which is that you look like a tool. But mostly the Vision Pro isn't meant to be worn while walking around. Regardless of the headset's passthrough camera technology, it's not a pair of smart glasses like Meta's Ray-Bans.

The Vision Pro and other mixed reality VR headsets can make you feel, at best, like you're not in an enclosed VR headset at all. It can be amazing. However, it's best used as a quality-of-life feature at home. They work best at home, where they're intended to be used. Not outside. At home.

Watch this: Vision Pro in the Wild: Beware the Vision Bros

Travel Mode is only optimized for planes 

OK, well maybe not always at home. The Vision Pro has a Travel Mode, and it lets you use it while in motion… on a plane. Specifically planes. Planes have steady movement, generally, and Apple has optimized this mode only for planes right now, with the intent that it prevents apps around you from drifting out of position as the plane moves.

Trains may sometimes work with Travel Mode, but in a car, on a bike or when walking, the motion isn't steady or consistent enough. When that happens, the apps just disappear until you seem to be more still. That adds up to a terrible experience. If the apps vanish, you'll still see your passthrough camera view uninterrupted, just for safety reasons. But again, you're likely to have a terrible experience using it while moving unless you're on a plane, or maybe a steadily moving train.

The Vision Pro isn't water-resistant

Unlike Meta's Ray-Bans, or AirPods, or the Apple Watch, or your phone, the expensive Vision Pro isn't rated for any weather resistance. Even its operating temperature range is limited: between 32 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

There are huge air vents on the top of the headset -- literally, big open holes. What if rain falls in there? Or moisture gets into the holes on the bottom? I don't want to find out. AppleCare Plus doesn't protect against what Apple considers improper use.

Apple Vision Pro AR/VR headset

See those vents at the top? Yeah, don't get water in those.

Josh Goldman/CNET

It's dangerous to others and yourself

The Vision Pro may look like it's got a see-through window to the outside world, but it doesn't. It's a completely enclosed VR headset that uses passthrough cameras to convey what's outside your headset. Got that? You're seeing the feed from the external cameras, not the real world. Never mind that there's a reduction in visual clarity, plus motion blur if you move your head quickly, but if the battery dies or gets disconnected, if it reboots suddenly or fails in some way, you'll be flying (or walking, or driving) blind. By the way, it's also illegal to operate anything while wearing a headset like this.

Even if it's functioning fine, the headset has a limited field of view, like looking through binoculars. There's no peripheral vision, which means something coming from your sides could collide with you or you could simply trip. And as VR researchers like Stanford's Virtual Human Interaction Lab have noted, perception through passthrough cameras is different than seeing the real world through your own eyes. Distances and space can be distorted. Hand-eye coordination can be different. You literally can't fully trust what you see.

Sure, YouTubers have shown how you can walk around, ride a bike or cook. I mean, anything is possible. It's also ridiculously risky. Cooking may not seem as obviously dangerous as operating a vehicle on the street, but I don't need to suddenly chop the tip of my finger off or scald myself pouring boiling water on my hands. 

Apple doesn't condone using the headset in these situations and even warns in apps like Maps that the Vision Pro can't be used while operating a vehicle. Maybe Apple should have restricted these functions more.

Apple Vision Pro AR/VR headset

Keep those lenses away from the sun. Treat VR headsets like vampires.

Josh Goldman/CNET

Sunlight can damage VR headsets

Here's a lesson I learned the hard way, years ago, while shooting a review video for the Oculus Go outside. After the shoot, I found a white spot on the display that wouldn't go away: lenses plus sunlight equals burn-in on VR headsets. If direct sun ever happens to hit those inner lenses, it's bad news. I haven't tested this on a $3,499 Vision Pro, and neither should you.

I keep all my VR headsets covered when I'm not using them, with a cloth or shirt or in their storage cases. I treat them like vampires. You should too. Invest in a good case for the Vision Pro, and by all means, don't expose the lenses to direct sunlight. Side note: direct sun and extreme light changes are generally also not great for VR headset tracking and passthrough camera visual clarity.

VisionOS isn't designed to be used while walking around much

Here's something social videos of people walking around and waving their hands while wearing Vision Pro won't reveal: The Vision Pro isn't made to be used while walking. You could wander around with it on, but those virtual displays stay in whatever place you opened them. I could walk downstairs in my house, and my virtual apps would still be upstairs.

Windows can be moved by dragging them with your fingers and, yes, you could drag one with you manually. Some videos show people doing this. You're basically taking your app for a walk. You could interact with it while dragging it, but you'd need to keep dragging it.

There is the Travel Mode, which can make apps stay near you when staying still, but if you walk with it on, the apps will just vanish. They reappear when you stop moving. You could use the Maps app with Vision Pro, but again, Apple advises you not to use it while moving. Plus, the Vision Pro doesn't have GPS.

Apple Vision Pro AR/VR headset

My main way of using Vision Pro will be seated, thank you very much -- especially with that battery cable.

Josh Goldman/CNET

Who knows what crashing with this on would do to your face

What happens when you land face-first into something hard while wearing 1.3 pounds of metal and glass pressed against your face? Answer: I don't know, and you don't want to either. VR headsets aren't designed to be worn in situations where you might encounter active impact. I get nervous enough just standing still and doing VR workouts in a Quest 3, and I certainly wouldn't run around a big space unless I knew it was being properly walled off and monitored like an indoor entertainment center specifically made for VR. Your eyes are sensitive. The Vision Pro isn't a pair of ski goggles, even though it may look like them.

Someone wearing an Apple Vision Pro on a train with a mask on.

I tried it on a train for a few moments. I didn't even turn it on. That was enough for me.

Scott Stein/CNET

You're begging to be robbed

It's hard for me to imagine wearing a $3,499 headset on my face in a public area like a coffee shop or a train station. That's because I don't like showing off fancy items. Maybe you have a multi-thousand-dollar watch or jewelry, and this seems like a trivial concern. But there's definitely a boundary I feel I'm crossing. 

Maybe it's the same boundary I feel when I consider wearing a VR headset in public (which I don't, almost never). But, at least, a Meta Quest is just several hundred dollars.

Theft and safety are also concerns. Would anyone try stealing from you or harassing you while wearing it, maybe thinking you couldn't see them? And then, what if someone just tries to rob you of this thing? I guess you could sit in a coffee shop with a $4,000 MacBook too, and phones already cost $1,000 or more. But this feels different. Because you might, depending on the mode you're using in the Vision Pro, be blindfolding yourself to someone approaching nearby.

The battery life is short

Wearing a Vision Pro is like having a pair of glasses that stop working in 2 hours. I keep it plugged in and charging at my desk when I use it. You could daisy-chain it to a larger battery pack if you wanted to, but this isn't made to be a use-it-all-day device anyway.

Apple Vision Pro AR/VR headset

Yes, you can see my virtual eyes. But these aren't really transparent, and they're not designed to be worn everywhere.

Josh Goldman/CNET

These aren't glasses

Apple, no doubt, has ambitions to eventually turn its Vision Pro vision into a pair of advanced glasses that show AR mixed with the real world, something you could really wear anywhere you go. The Vision Pro isn't that. It's not glasses yet. It can feel a little like glasses when you wear it and get used to it, and it comes the closest to feeling like futuristic AR glasses. But it's still a very advanced VR headset with mixed reality passthrough cameras, a device to explore a blend of worlds in a space you'd normally use a computer like an iPad or MacBook. Maybe that's partially outdoors or someplace you travel to or many places. But it's not you, walking around, doing things outside.

Glasses will come for outdoor use, someday. Meta and others already have smart glasses that are designed just for that purpose. In the meantime, think of the Vision Pro as a bridge to get there. The laptop, not the phone. And do us all a favor, and cool your stunts. Just because it seems like you can wear a Vision Pro everywhere doesn't mean you should.