Apple is working on a device that the company hopes will break into a new product category. It was supposed to be released first in 2021, then 2022 – but could now be delayed to 2023.
Rumors have been circulating for years that Apple could be working on a headset for virtual or augmented reality (VR/AR). Most recently, there was talk of a launch in 2022, but now the date could slip further back.
Apple is having trouble developing the headset
According to a report from Bloomberg, Apple is apparently having problems with the development of the high-tech headset. While the new product was originally supposed to be ready for the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June 2022, Apple is now thinking of postponing the presentation by several months. The reason for this is said to be hurdles in the development of the device. According to people familiar with the matter, there are problems with “overheating, cameras and software”.
According to Bloomberg, this is not the first time that Apple has internally considered postponing the launch date. Originally, the headset was supposed to be unveiled in 2021 and ship in 2022. However, ongoing development problems could mean that the product announcement will not take place until the end of 2022 or even later. Therefore, delivery is not expected until 2023 at the earliest.
New product category for Apple
Apple has been working on a mixed reality solution since 2015. While low-priced AR headsets like Google Glass have proven to be a flop, companies like Oculus (now Meta Platforms) and HTC have carved out a market niche with their VR headsets. Unlike AR devices, which “augment” real-world environments with superimposed images, VR headsets put users in completely virtual realities. Meta (formerly Facebook) even wants to create a completely virtual “metaverse” that people can immerse themselves in and use for social interactions and gaming.
Apple’s AR/VR headset, on the other hand, is expected to take the middle ground. Mark Gurman of Bloomberg refers to sources at Apple, according to which the company is giving the Metaverse a clear rejection. Rather, the headset is supposed to be used for temporary interludes for communication, watching content and gaming. Moreover, it is unlikely that the headset will compete with Apple’s own iPhone at launch. Bloomberg expects a price of at least 2000 US dollars (about 1757 euros). The product is therefore not aimed at the masses.
After all, though, a VR/AR headset from Apple could be the basis for more mixed reality products. There are speculations that the company is already planning a lighter version in the form of “Apple Glasses.”
Continue reading What’s the difference between VR, AR and MR?
What could Apple’s mixed reality headset be called?
In his “Power On” newsletter, Gurman presents a number of possible names based on Apple’s previous selection process. The most likely variants are “Apple Vision” and “Apple Reality.” The headset could feature a new operating system, which Bloomberg says will be called “rOS” – with the “r” standing for “reality.” The software is being developed under the code name “Oak” and will focus primarily on communication and media consumption.
Industry insider Ming-Chi Kuo had already indicated in a research report at the end of 2021 that the Apple headset would have two processor chips. One of them is supposed to have the same performance as the Apple M1, which is used in the iPad Pro, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro 13″, for example. The chip is supposed to drive two 4K OLED screens and enable elaborate 3D hand tracking.
- Bloomberg, “Apple’s New VR/AR Headset Risks Being Delayed Until 2023”
- Power On by Mark Gurman (Newsletter)
- MacRumors: “Kuo: Apple AR Headset Coming in Late 2022 With Mac-Level Computing Power”