Apple has no magic in store for Vision Pro's 1.0 keyboard
Early adopters of Apple's Vision Pro will be forced to type with one finger at a time or use a Bluetooth keyboard.
The ease of the Vision Pro's advanced eye and hand-tracking with a look and pinch interface seems at odds with pecking out a letter at a time on a virtual keyboard. Nevertheless, one-finger typing was recently confirmed by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman.
Apple calls the Vision Pro headset a spatial computer instead of a VR headset, making it clear the device is meant to be used primarily as you would a MacBook. Instead of a screen, you'll be able to see large virtual displays in the 4K-per-eye head-mounted display. While a laptop has a built-in keyboard and trackpad, the Vision Pro recognizes your gaze and hand gestures.
Unfortunately, normal typing with multiple fingers won't be supported in the initial release of visionOS and its unclear when or if that will improve.
The Vision Pro virtual keyboard is a complete write-off at least in 1.0. You have to poke each key one finger at a time like you did before you learned how to type. There is no magical in-air typing. You can also look at a character and pinch. You’ll want a Bluetooth keyboard.
— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) January 12, 2024
There are better input options than Apple's 1-finger system
Interacting with virtual keyboards isn't easy, but there are better solutions than Apple's one-finger typing on the Vision Pro's virtual keyboard.
Meta added a swipe keyboard to the Quest 2 and Quest Pro keyboard last year. It works like your phone keyboard but was a little sluggish at launch. It's better now and runs quite nicely on the much faster Quest 3.
Meta also demonstrated research into multi-finger touch typing software with Meta CTO Andrew Bosworth knocking out a 119 words per minute on Quest 2 with a virtual keyboard aligned with a table.
Apple, what are you doing?
Apple limits usage of its products in ways that are hard to understand, a common complaint from people more familiar with Windows and Android devices. The Vision Pro could suffer from various restrictions that prevent it reaching its full potential for the first few years.
Here are a few examples. It was impossible to use a mouse with an iPad until 2019. Even though an iPad Pro uses the same chip as a Mac, it can't run Mac apps. Similarly, every Mac with an Apple chip is compatible with iOS and iPadOS apps, but very few are available.
If I invest $3,500 in an Apple Vision Pro, it should offer a virtual typing experience that's more impressive than pecking with a single finger. I complained to Meta about this years ago and was pleased to finally see swipe implemented. Apple needs to match and exceed Meta's Quest in spatial computing without the need for accessories.