Rumors abound that Apple could enter the world of AR and VR in the coming years. We know, for instance, there are rumors Apple could release a pair of lightweight glasses for consumers in the future. In the meantime, however, we could very well get our own Apple VR headset for entertainment, gaming, and communication.
AR, VR, or both?
The reports seem to suggest Apple’s headset will primarily be a VR headset for gaming and entertainment (think Oculus Rift/Quest), but that it will also have some AR applications supported by features like LiDAR. According to reports:
“JPMorgan Chase Securities Technology Industry Analyst Yang Weilun pointed out that Apple may release headset products equipped with Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) in the first quarter of 2022. Most of the components will be fourth in 2021. Shipments started in the first quarter, and seven major Taiwanese manufacturers including TSMC and Largan have entered the head-mounted device supply chain.”
Apple CEO, Tim Cook, recently teased in an interview with China Daily USA that Apple is “incredibly excited about AR”. Cook also said that he thinks we are still in “the very early innings of how this technology will evolve” but that he couldn’t be more excited about the opportunities in space. While we know Apple is working on an AR-focused device as well, it’s possible that Cook could be hinting at the Apple VR headset and its AR capabilities.
When can we expect a release?
No one ever knows when Apple will release anything for sure, but the most recent report from Ming-Chi Kuo (opens in new tab) cites that it could be even sooner than we think.
Kuo says that Apple VR, which he expects to launch in January, is going to be a mixed reality headset capable of both full virtual reality and mixed reality experiences.
Not only would a January 2023 release be sooner than we initially thought, but it would also likely be at a special event. Kuo predicts that Apple could hold a media event for the device near the beginning of the new year before sending out a development kit to developers a few weeks later. He also predicts pre-orders will begin in the year’s second quarter and that the headset will be on the shelves by WWDC 2023.
If Apple did hold a special event in January, it would be the first time since 2010, when Steve Jobs announced the very first iPad. It seems fitting that Apple would jump into a brand new product category for the company with a big splash set to change the current industry. Since Apple does love its anniversaries, the rumored January release window is very tempting to believe.
What will the headset be called?
In a report at the end of August 2022, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported that Apple has filed multiple trademarks regarding the potential naming of its headset and the processor that will power it.
According to the report, Apple has filed trademark applications through proxies for the names “Reality One,” “Reality Pro” and “Reality Processor,” in the US, EU, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Costa Rica, and Uruguay.
What will the design be like?
The below drawing is an artist’s impression of photos seen by The Information of Apple’s AR headset, sporting a fairly regular VR ‘goggles’ section described as a “sleek, curved visor”, and a mesh, interchangeable headband.
Whilst Apple’s VR headset was once thought to be a companion device that would use a hub for much of its processing power, it is now understood Apple VR could be a standalone headset that doesn’t require any external processing.
What features will it have?
Apple’s headset is tipped to be a “pricey” and “niche” competitor to established VR headsets. In early 2021, a huge story from The Information claimed that Apple’s VR headset would have two 8K displays for high-fidelity visuals. It will also reportedly come with eye and hand-tracking technology for full immersion.
The Apple VR headset could run on Apple’s new Apple silicon chips, recently debuted in its new Mac lineup. According to Bloomberg:
“Apple is aiming to include some of its most advanced and powerful chips in the headset along with displays that are much higher resolution than those in existing VR products.”
Gurman has even said that the M2 chip — Apple’s newest silicon darling — is slated to be the brains of the Apple VR.
What will the price be?
Brace yourself. The Information reports Apple’s VR headset could cost a whopping $3,000. It was previously reported it would be an expensive product that would cost much more than current competitors, priced between $300-$900. According to JP Morgan, Apple VR could cost more to make than the iPhone 12. All signs point to Apple VR costing a very large sum of money.
Several Apple leakers have described the Apple VR headset as “game-changing” and “industry-leading,” two sets of adjectives that usually aren’t followed by cheap.
Apple VR is coming
Like winter in the Game of Thrones series, we know Apple VR is coming. The company has repeatedly talked about AR and VR are the future, and it has been increasing the AR capabilities of its products in recent years.
Surprisingly, the rumors and leaks around Apple VR have been pretty sparse, which likely means we are all in for a real treat when Apple finally announces what they have been working on all these years.
Update August 2022: Updated to include new rumors and leaks about Apple’s VR headset.