Apple VR/AR headset is coming.  Here's everything we know so far

Apple VR/AR headset is coming. Here’s everything we know so far

Image: Cristina Annibali / EyeEm

What are these Apple headphones?

Apple’s Mixed Reality Headset is a virtual/augmented reality headset concept. Apple’s version will provide many of the same features as the headsets currently on the market, but will likely feature more advanced technology.

VR headsets are pretty much the cutting edge of consumer technology right now, and Meta, Google and other big tech companies have been eyeing the space for years, so it’s no big surprise that Apple wants to get involved as well. Apple tends to wait and watch when it comes to new products rather than being first to market. But the big question is whether the market for (and consumer interest in) VR and AR headsets has really reached the point where Apple needs to get involved.

The headset has been rumored for years, but there’s very little solid evidence that it exists, other than a few comments from top Apple executives and a steady stream of rumors. Apple certainly did not confirm the existence of the headset. However, analysts and enthusiasts have been keeping a close eye on Apple’s activities and have been able to pick up clues about the headset’s specifications. Here’s everything we know.

What will the Apple headset be called?

The filed patents give us a clue to the name of the Apple headset, which will probably include the word “Reality”. In August, Bloomberg reported that a shell company linked to law firms previously used by Apple had filed trademark applications in several countries for the names “Reality One”, “Reality Pro” and “Reality Processor”.

A few months before that, another shell company filed two patents for “RealityOS” that could refer to the software the headset would use. It’s not uncommon for a large tech company like Apple to use a front company to maintain secrecy. Before the macOS Yosemite and Monterey names were announced, Apple used the shell company “Yosemite Research LLC” to register the names.

How much should the headset cost?

According to Bloomberg, we can expect the headset to cost anywhere between $2,000 and $3,000 due to the M2 chip it will use, the high number of cameras and high-resolution displays. This places Apple’s headphones at a higher price than competitors in the market. The Meta Quest Pro headset retails for $1,500 and the HTC Vive Focus 3 retails for $1,300.

Also: Dating in the Metaverse: Our Experience with HTC Vive Sync

When did the rumors about the Apple headset concept start to spread?

Rumors of a top-secret Apple VR/AR headset began in 2017 when Bloomberg reported on “rOS,” an operating system that was said to be built to run the VR product. At the time, Bloomberg predicted that the product would be ready to ship as early as 2020, but today – six years after the rumor – we know how that estimate turned out.

When is the expected release date?

According to the latest projections, despite the constant delays, we shouldn’t have to wait much longer. Originally expected to launch in 2019, the product has been delayed to 2020, 2021, 2022 and now 2023.

The general expectation was that Apple would launch the product in January 2023, with shipments to follow later that year. However, even this plan went in a detour.

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman believes the tech giant will now announce the headset this spring ahead of the annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June. Apple often uses WWDC to announce products. At WWDC 2022, Apple announced its new software updates for the iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch, as well as the latest iteration of its signature silicon chip.

Apple-focused analyst Ming-Chi Kuo’s predictions also match Gurman’s. In December, Kuo said we could expect a launch in the second half of 2023 due to software-related issues.

“My latest research suggests that the mass shipment plan for Apple MR headsets may be delayed to 2Q23 due to software-related issues (versus the previous estimate for 2Q23),” Kuo said in a statement. tweet.

Apple has yet to confirm the existence of the headset or when we can expect a launch.

Are there prototypes?

Gurman reports that Apple has already shared the product with a small number of leading software developers for testing, suggesting that there is already a near-finished product, or at least a prototype. The internal codename of Apple’s first headset is N301, according to Bloomberg. A later model, the N602, and a lightweight set of augmented reality glasses, codenamed N421, can be expected to launch later in the decade.

Aren’t there already headsets you can use with Apple products?

If you really want to explore AR/VR, there are already devices on the market that would allow you to do so. Meta’s Quest 2 is on the lower side of headset prices without compromising on value. ZDNET ranked it as the best overall VR headset due to its easy setup, comfortable controls, excellent tracking, and high-resolution display.

Also: Meet the companies that will shape the meta versions

If you’re a proud participant in the Apple ecosystem, a more affordable option is the HoloKit X. This headset uses Apple technology to create an AR experience. The iPhone acts as the eyes of the headset and all you have to do is pair it with the app for it to work. The headset also has Apple Watch integration that allows for motion tracking on your wrist, allowing you to play games that require movement from your hand. To watch ZDNET editor Kerry Wan use the headset and work her magic in her AR, click here.

Who is the intended audience for the headset?

The Apple headset is designed to be a high-end headset full of bells and whistles that will be ideal for professionals or people who are really invested in AR/VR. If you’re only interested in exploring and playing around with AR/VR, then a more affordable existing headset may be a better option for you.

How would Apple’s launch affect the industry?

With talk of a potential metaversion on the horizon, more and more companies are developing AR/VR headsets, and interest in the space continues to grow. In typical Apple style, the tech giant waited until other companies tried it and public interest grew before entering the scene.

The first modern AR/VR headset, the Oculus Rift, launched in March 2016. Since then, Meta – which acquired Oculus in 2014 – has continued to develop and launch VR/AR headsets, culminating in the latest 2022 headset, known as Meta Quest Pro. During the six years that Meta continued to grow in the space, Apple waited.

Also: Random teleports and virtual high-fives: What I learned about VR encounters

“After Apple launches an AR/MR headset, I think Apple’s global rivals will compete to imitate it, leading the headset hardware industry into the next phase of rapid growth and benefiting from the related services and content ecosystem,” he wrote Kuo.

In the past, when Apple finally decided to enter the space, it revolutionized and dominated it, creating new interest and raising standards for the product. It’s fair to assume that Apple will have the same impact on the AR/VR space when the headset drops.

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