Apple may have finally seen the funny side of its Vision Pro ad ban

iHead vs Vision Pro
(Image credit: Tim Arnold / Apple)

One of the devices pictured above is the Vision Pro, a $3,500 'spatial computer' created by the world's largest tech company. The other is the iHead, a parody product that predates the Vision Pro and was created for a music video by a special effects artist who worked with Monty Python. Apple seemed to be worried that we wouldn't be able to tell which is which.

The Apple Vision Pro release date isn't due until next year, but the tech giant doesn't seem to want anyone taking the mick out of what will be its first entirely new product in years – and perhaps its riskiest (see our pick of the best Apple Prime Day deals for savings on current products).

The iHead is the subject of a satirical sketch recorded by Britain's most learned comedian Stephen Fry back in 2019. What could be considered a Vision Pro parody before its time, has now been released as part of the album Super Connected by British singer-songwriter Tim Arnold. And the album was banned from Apple Music as a result.

The offending track is a clearly fake advert with a tongue-in-cheek sales pitch for a non-existent product. The iHead is a device created by 81-year-old special effects artist Valerie Charlton, who worked on Labyrinth and Monty Python's Holy Grail. It was digitally rendered by Andrew Schlussel, head of global talent at the VFX company Framestore.

However, Apple said it wouldn't accept the iHead track because it might be mistaken for real advertising (UPDATE: today 7 July Apple relented and has now accepted the album onto Apple Music with the offending track included).

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Arnold cited examples of other albums that contain joke ads but faced no such band, including The Who Sell Out. He says the parody is integral to the concept of his album, which is described by Mojo as a "glam rocking, Black Mirror concept". The album criticises how digital services mediate in the way we consume music today – a theme that is explored in the track below and whose video also features the 'iHead' device.

Several well-known musicians, including members of the Kaiser Chiefs, Spandau Ballet and Wet Wet Wet signed an open letter calling on Apple to back down over the ban. In the letter, Arnold refers to how Apple's first Mac advert referenced George Orwell's 1984, arguing that the company now seems to be committing the kind of censorship we might expect from a Big Brother regime.

"Perhaps the paradox of this parody has unearthed an Apple policy that Apple customers and artists are not aware of?" the letter reads."Whatever it is, this entire debacle signals a potentially corrosive turn in the freedom of independent artists to express their art on digital platforms.

"In my role as a mentor to young musicians, I fear younger artists may feel compelled to conform to the objections of streaming companies, inadvertently succumbing to a culture where those companies shape, control, and even censor art."

The debacle appeared to prove something that we've always suspected: that Apple really doesn't have a sense of humour. Now that it's given in, we hope it sees the funny side. Want to make your own 'i' products? Perhaps try getting creative with one of the best 3D printer Prime Day deals).

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Joseph Foley

Joe is a regular freelance journalist and editor at Creative Bloq. He writes news and features, updates buying guides and keeps track of the best equipment for creatives, from monitors to accessories and office supplies. A writer and translator, he also works as a project manager at London and Buenos Aires-based design, production and branding agency Hermana Creatives, where he manages a team of designers, photographers and video editors who specialise in producing photography, video content, graphic design and collaterals for the hospitality sector. He enjoys photography, particularly nature photography, wellness and he dances Argentine tango.