Thoughts and Lessons from the Apple Vision Pro Presentation at WWDC

Let me start by saying before the WWDC Keynote, I wasn’t even remotely excited about Apple VR product.

The Meta Quest doesn’t excite me, and when I had Google Glass, I liked it, but I didn’t love it.

Suffice to say, Apple blew me away with their approach to the Apple Vision Pro. And the early reviews do not disappoint.

From a business/technology/create approach, here were my initial thoughts:

Apple shows you can go cheap, or you can go impressive. Meta announced a $500 version of the Quest mere days before WWDC. Part of the reason I wasn’t excited for Apple’s version is I’m not even remotely interested in the Quest or the Metaverse.

But Apple went high end, making the Vision Pro a full $3000 more than the cheaper version of the quest.

Not everyone will be on board, but there’s no denying that their product is impressive in such a way that Meta is getting dragged on Twitter. Meta basically owned this space for the past 5-7 years and Apple just kinda blew them up.

The lesson: Don’t just race to the bottom. You can create a high-end service and charge a premium if you impress.

They are reusing Aux tech created in VR for other apps. Earlier in the keynote, they showed an iPad feature where they tell you if you’re holding the screen too close.

I can’t help but think this was tech they developed for eye tracking on the Vision Pro, that made its way into other parts of the OS already.

The lesson: use your sawdust. When you create, look at each part of your process and see how you can use it.

They are smartly taking familiar experiences and moving them to a new medium first. One of the problems with the Meta Quest, that Sara Dietschy points out, is the interface and experience is unintuitive because it’s unfamiliar.

But Apple took several things into account when they design the UX for the Vision Pro:

  1. We know how to use our eyes and hands
  2. We know how to use the apps they demoed
  3. The ideas behind the UX are familiar (make a call, send a text, browse a website, etc)

All of these combined means everything comes very naturally to us.

The lesson: Lower your learning curve, lower your barrier to entry, and you’ll create better, happier experiences for your customers.

They are never first to market, but they are much better when they enter. There’s a reason that post-1997 Apple is never first to market on a product.

They do a ton of research on real-world use. During the presentation, they used the term “cheek width” to point out they’ve studied faces.

But with the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and AirPods, they took care to truly understand how people use the current crop of products, and improved upon them.

The VR/AR space is so controversial already; even though it’s been around for 10+ years, there’s still a lot of mainstream pushback.

Creating a whole other world is weird, uncanny valley, dystopian nonsense to a lot of people.

But Apple focused on how their product augments your current experience. You can still see your environment. You can still see real people in the real space. And they can see your eyes.

The lesson: There’s a lot of weight put on being first to market so you can make a name for yourself. But you could just be better. If you impress, reuse lessons you’ve learned, and create better experiences, you can blow up the competition.


Trying Out Pocket Casts

Since I started running again last month, a number of folks told me they listen to podcasts to make the run go by faster.

I’ve always been a music listener because I tend to run to the beat, use it to get my pumped up, etc.

But I’m always open to new ideas!

Anyway, Overcast has been my long-time podcast app of choice, but the experience with downloading episodes to the Apple Watch has been incredibly frustrating and unpredictable. And I’m only taking my watch with me on runs.

Turns out, I’m a lifetime member of Pocket Casts +, which means I’m privy to some great features, including Watch support. So I’ve decided to switch over to that for a week or so to see if it’s better.

I’ll likely do a comparison write-up in the near future, either here or over on Podcast Liftoff.

If there’s anything you want to know, leave a comment!

One Week with the Apple Watch Ultra

It’s been a week with the Apple Watch Ultra and I love it.

I like big watches in general, so the extra screen real estate is clutch. I have a few faces I’ve been using with it, depending on Focus Mode and Context:

There are a few things I really love about this watch, outside of the bigger face:

  • The incredible battery life. I can get about 2 days without charging it at all. Which means I get to use another new-to-me feature
  • Sleep tracking. I’ve never been much of a sleep tracker, but at the end of this month, I’m doing a sleep study where I’ll certainly be diagnosed with sleep apnea. I’m excited to compare the data on the watch to data from a proper study.
  • The Action Button. Right now I have it executing my “idea” shortcut, but I might change that (see below).
  • The Swipe Keyboard. I like that I don’t always have to talk to my watch.

There are a few quibbles I have, which might have less to do with the hardware, and more to do with the software:

  • Forced keyboard usage for input. I’d much rather the watch default to talking (or at least make it a setting). Because of that, I might change the Action Button, since that forces the keyboard and using voice to execute the shortcut does not.
  • No Battery Tracking. This was an issue I had on the Series 5 too. I like that I can see battery stats on my iPhone. I wish I could see it on the watch too. Some app (I think Overcast) went haywire and crushed my battery at one point.

Those are it though! Since the battery life is so good, I’ve decided I’m also going to experiment with leaving my phone at home more and rely on the watch for communication and notes. We’ll see how long it lasts.


The Peak Design Everyday Case

I have never been a big fan of cases. I don’t like my phone1 to be bulkier than it needs to be.

And for a long time, I didn’t need them. I was flummoxed by people who broke their phones. The first time I had to use phone insurance for a shattered device, my wife, then girlfriend dropped it2.

But recently, I find myself dropping my device a lot. I’m trying to do too many things, multitasking while also trying to be a dad to 3 small kids, and my phone gets dropped (or picked up by my children, and then dropped).

Suffice to say, I’m willing to invest in a $12-50 case if it means I don’t have to pay $100 to get it repaired before trading it in.

I wanted a good mix of sleekness and protection, and thought I’d go with the Caudable Sheath, which has been drop tested up to 6.6 feet. I’ve used it before and really liked it.

But I also decided to try the Peak Design Everyday Case. I like their bags and other gear, it looked nice, and they have a whole accessories system3.

And my friends…I’ve seen the Promised Land of phone cases. It’s so good.

photo from peakdesign.com

It’s slimmer than the Sheath and nearly as protective – 6 feet vs. the Sheath’s 6.6 feet.

It’s sturdy with all of my current MagSafe accessories, and I also got the mini tripod. It’s great for photos, as well as watching or hands-free reading.

If you’re in the market for a new phone case, I highly recommend the Peak Design Everyday Case. It’s won me over. It will be the case I buy for new phones as long as they make it.

  1. Or any of my devices for that matter ?
  2. She is a phone assassin. I call her that to her face. ?
  3. I love phone accessories. ?
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The Belkin MagSafe Mount for Studio Display

I ordered the Belkin iPhone Mount with MagSafe for Mac desktops and displays in December, and it came in last week. My initial impression: it’s nice — way nicer than the laptop one.

Here’s the shot from my iPhone on the mount, first with, then without, Center Stage:

Here’s what I like about it:

  • It’s compact and folds up nicely
  • It’s fully adjustable for tilt, and the head slides so you can adjust the phone to sit closer or further from you.
  • It can be mounted on a tripod. This will likely replace All of the other phone tripod mounts I have.
  • The MagSafe is quite strong. I have the Peak Design case1 and the phone stayed mounted no problem.

All-in-all I’m really happy with this purchase. I highly recommend it if you have a monitor and want to use your iPhone as a webcam — whether or not you use Continuity Camera to do it.

Want a video demo? Join How I Built It Pro

Here are a few more photos of the mount:

  1. Also MagSafe. More on that later. ?

Initial Impressions on the Kindle Scribe

I’ve long considered getting a reMarkable 2 but have never pulled the trigger on it.

Part of the reason was I’ve always been partial to reading Kindle books and taking notes on them, and my iPad Mini does that fine.

Then Amazon announced the Kindle Scribe. More affordable, initial deal for Prime members and a good trade-in price for my Kindle Oasis and the $500 device got down to $280. So I bought it. Here are my initial impressions:

  • It’s big, but I don’t think too big. And I love the extra space on one side to grip the device.
  • Reading on it is nice. I can crank up the font size without feeling crowded.
  • I love the notebooks feature. I’ve been using it as my primary note taking device this week and it’s been great.
  • The pen is light and super neat. There’s an “eraser” on the other end, and a shortcut button you can configure. I use mine to highlight.
  • Writing on it feels the most paper-like I’ve experienced on a digital device.
  • If there is lag, I don’t notice it.
  • You can directly markup PDFs. So. Good.
  • The battery life is incredible.

If there’s one shortcoming, is the lack of ability to get my RSS feeds on the device. I’d love to make this my one and only reading device, but it’s tough.

That’s not really the Kindle’s fault either. Articles written for the web don’t work well on a book medium.

If you’d like to see a video demo, become a How I Built It Pro member.


My Lighting Kit

I’ve gotten several questions about how I do my lighting. Here’s all of the hardware and software!

Proper Lighting

I have The Elgato Key Lights and Mounting Setup:

Color Lights Around the Office

Smart Plugs

Putting it All Together

I control all of my lighting with my Stream Deck, as well as some automations with Apple Home and Shortcuts.

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My Live Stream Kit

I routinely get questions about my live stream setup – I use and how it all works, so I thought I’d put together this quick post. If you have any questions, let me know!


  • eCamm Live: I use this as the software on my computer to get my streams to the internet. It integrates with everything, including Restream and Stream Deck. It also makes it easy to use iOS devices as additional camera sources
  • Restream.io: This is what I use to get the stream to YouTube, Twitch, and Facebook. Its free tier is shockingly good.
  • Riverside.fm: I use this more for podcasting than live streaming, but their recent streaming features have me wondering if I should switch things up.


You can learn more about my hardware setup on the What’s on my Desk post.

Walk Through!

I was recently asked how I ran a webinar, so I made a quick video walk through:

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How to Point a Custom Domain to ConvertKit

My favorite Email Service Provider for creators is ConvertKit.

It’s flexible and has a ton of features for sorting, tagging, and even selling products. In fact, if I need to spin up something quickly to sell a digital product, chances are I’m using ConverKit.

A big contributing factor to that is the ability to point to custom domains. Imagine having a website where you can sell digital products without having to actually build a website? That’s what ConvertKit allows you to do. So today I’m sending you a video tutorial on how to point a custom domain to ConvertKit, which you can use for landing pages, eCommerce, a members-only newsletter, or anything else you can think of.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. How can this help you? Let me know!

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3 StoreBuilder Features That Make it the Best eCommerce Solution

Ah, the age-old question: do you want ease of use, or the freedom to do with you want with your eCommerce store? Shopify is easy but expensive (especially since they take a transaction cut). But WooCommerce and other self-hosted platforms are hard to set up and harder to maintain…until now.

With Nexcess’ StoreBuilder, you can have the best of both worlds: the ease of use from Shopify, and the freedom and flexibility of WordPress/WooCommerce. Here are my Top 3 features of StoreBuilder:

  1. A simplified WordPress Dashboard menu. The Dashboard can get extremely messy – especially when you add in WooCommerce. With StoreBuilder, the team rebuilt the menu to make it more simplified, which in turn makes it easier to find the crucial areas you need to run your online store.
  2. A vastly improved Setup Wizard. The WooCommerce wizard is fine, but the StoreBuilder wizard is next level. You can choose from tons of great designs, make customizations, and set up your shop in a few clicks. Plus, you don’t have to worry about upsells! It even includes helpful videos from WP101 directly inline, to help you along.
  3. Access to lots of premium plugins. One of the great things about StoreBuilder is that you get access to premium plugins you’d otherwise need to pay for. From security and backups, to abandoned cart plugins, you get everything you need without any fuss.

Try StoreBuilder risk-free for 30 days. Then it’s just $19/mo.