Apple doesn’t release entirely new products very often, so when there’s one on the way, it sends the rumor mill into overdrive. Talk of an Apple VR headset has been around for years, and the Cupertino-based company has yet to make an official announcement, but it’s now starting to look like something concrete that could be in the works.
Apple doesn’t tend to jump on the bandwagon unless it’s convinced that the product being developed has solved all the problems with existing competitors and there’s a big enough demand for it. But reports indicate that Apple’s board recently received a demo of a new mixed reality headset, suggesting things are at a reasonably advanced stage.
So what do we know so far? And when will Apple VR (or whatever it’s called) be released?
Apple VR: supposed specs
According to Bloomberg, Apple’s headphones have been in the works since 2015, so the specs will have changed drastically over time. The newest version is said to be powered by a version of Apple’s own M1 chip, with 8K displays and eye-tracking technology on the inside, and multiple cameras on the outside.
The report also claims that the first device, codenamed N301, will offer both VR and AR capabilities, while a second pair of AR-only glasses (codenamed N421) will follow later.
Apple has pushed AR apps pretty hard on iOS in recent years, but a new type of device will require a new operating system. References to a “realityOS” have been spotted in iOS preview builds, App Store download logs and trademark filings dating back to 2017.
Apple VR: supposed design
Apple has managed to keep any renders or mockups of its headphones secret so far, but a report from The Information last year said it would feature a “sleek, curved visor” with “interchangeable headbands”, which ring like the canopy. on AirPods Max. This knitted, breathable mesh is designed to reduce pressure on the wearer’s head, which would make sense for a device you’d be likely to wear for long periods of time. It would be a small departure from existing headsets like the Oculus Go (above), but still recognizable as a VR device.
The report also mentions a prototype that included a physical dial, much like the digital crown found on the Apple Watch and AirPods Max. This would make sense from an ergonomic standpoint, allowing the wearer to navigate menus without having to search for multiple individual buttons. You can bet it will also support Siri for completely hands-free use.
Apple VR: price rumor and release date
There were rumors that Apple was planning to launch its new headphones at WWDC in June, but that didn’t happen, possibly due to overheating issues with the latest prototype. A more recent update from the Apple analyst Ming Chi Kuo says it could be announced as early as January 2023 and shipped to faces before next year’s WWDC.
He also claims that it will be the most revolutionary product since the iPhone, which would be easier to believe if he didn’t expect it to cost between $2,000 and $2,500 or more. Surely this is not a way to turn augmented reality and virtual reality into a mainstream success like the iPhone?
Main image by Ian Zelbo