“Apple AR/VR Headset” Virtual reality (VR) headsets are at 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 not a huge surprise that Apple wants to get involved, too. So, what can we expect from Apple’s headset? Here’s everything we know.
What is this Apple AR/VR headset?
The Apple mixed reality headset is Apple’s take on VR and augmented reality (AR) headsets. Apple’s version will deliver many of the same functions as the headsets that are on the market now, but it will likely house more advanced technology.
The Apple VR/AR mixed reality headset is one of those products that’s perpetually rumored but never seems to materialize — though it sounds like that’s about to change. With Apple’s WWDC 2023 looming, we could finally get an official glimpse at this device, rumored to be shipping later this year.
Not that Apple has confirmed any of this, since it hasn’t even officially announced the device. We do know that Apple has big plans for augmented reality and a VR/AR headset could seemingly be the first real Apple product to enter that space.
It’s worth noting that the VR/AR headset is different from the rumored Apple Glasses. Those are said to be purely AR-focused and aren’t likely to arrive anytime soon. Meanwhile, the Apple AR/VR headset could be here as soon as the June 5 WWDC keynote. Once it arrives, Apple’s gear is likely to compete with the Meta Quest 2, PSVR 2, and all the other best VR headsets.
We’ve seen several reports coming out regarding Apple VR/AR, including next-generation display technology and its potential price and release window.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Apple VR/AR mixed reality headset that’s expected to arrive at some point this year.
Apple VR/AR mixed-reality headset release date speculation
It’s looking very likely that we’ll see the reveal of the Apple AR/VR headset at WWDC 2023 on June 5. Serial Apple tipster and Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman have once again reiterated that we’ll see Apple’s first mixed reality headset at WWDC. And joining it will be the likely reveal of RealityOS/xrOS, the operating system or systems the headset is expected to use.
While multiple rumors have suggested a WWDC debut, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo recently said that Apple has again pushed back production on the headset to the third quarter of 2023, and that as a result, the device might not be introduced at WWDC. Kuo says that Apple “isn’t very optimistic” about whether the headset will be able to “create an iPhone moment.” Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, however, says that Apple still plans to unveil the headset at the event.
The headset is reportedly now in the “final sprint” and the “supply chain delivery stage,” which suggests Apple is planning to unveil it in the near future. Apple has been hinting at the headset announcement by teasing the dawn of a “new era” and the opportunity for developers to “code new worlds.”
Pricing on the headset could start somewhere around $3,000, which will make it much more expensive than an iPhone. To start with, it won’t be aimed at general consumers, but will instead be positioned as a device for developers, content creators, and professionals.
Apple’s AR/VR headset reportedly costs around $1,500 to manufacture alone, and the component costs will translate to a higher device micro OLED displays are the most expensive component inside the AR/VR headset at around $280 to $320. The camera modules cost around $160, and the main processor and image signal processor is priced at around $120 to $140.
Apple expects to sell just one headset per day per retail store, and it has told suppliers that it expects sales of seven to 10 million units during the first year of availability.
Furthermore, another report indicates that the headset is in the “delivery stage” of the supply chain and a potential schedule of a WWDC launch with mass production to follow is still on track.
Interestingly, The Financial Times reports that the Apple AR/VR headset is launching despite reservations from the Apple design team that the device is not yet ready forTheently, the designers are pushing for a lighter-weight design but were overruled by COO Jeff Williams and CEO Tim Cook. Further reporting from the New York Times claims that several people working on the project aren’t convinced it’s the right move for Apple, despite general interest in AR/VR technology.
It’s worth noting that analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says that Apple may delay mass production of the Apple headset by 1-2 months, citing the lack of “iPhone moment excitement” among other factors. These include the rumored high $3,000 price, as well as “the economic downturn, compromises on some hardware specifications for mass production (such as weight) and the readiness of the ecosystem and Applications.
According to reports, the Apple VR/AR mixed reality headset is designed to be a precursor to Apple Glass. The AR lenses are supposed to offer an “optical see-through AR experience,” according to Ming-Chi Kuo. However, Apple Glasses may not arrive for a long time, with Apple reportedly delaying the project due to technical challenges.
Based on everything we’ve heard, Apple Glass is designed to look and act like an ordinary lightweight pair of glasses. We’re talking incenses that are able to project information, and presumably imagery, onto the lenses.
The Apple VR/AR mixed reality headset is expected to be like a typical VR several one with a number of exterior cameras and sensors that unlock bonus functionality.
That way Apple’s VR and mixed reality headset can offer body tracking, and incorporate real-world environments in a virtual space. Plus, the Apple VR headset could incorporate a see-through experience that can deliver a form of augmented reality. So it’s more like the Meta Quest Pro, rather than the VR-only Meta Quest 2.
Unlike the Meta Quest Pro, however, Apple may not be jumping on the “metaverse” bandwagon. Mark Gurman has claimed that the Apple headset will be designed for ps into VR. In fact, Apple is said to have declared the metaverse “off limits”. Users will be able to use the mixed reality headset for communication, content viewing, and gaming, but it won’t be a device you wear all day or as a replacement for real life.
Still not sure what the difference between mixed reality, and virtual reality actually is? We have an explainer that tells you exactly what mixed reality is and what Microsoft, Meta, and Apple have planned for it.
Apple VR/AR mixed reality headset rumored price
While reports have chopped and changed on the potential price of the Apple VR/AR headset, the early consensus — from the rumors thus far — has the headset priced at around $3,000.
That mixed-reality is a vast amount of money to spend on a mixed-reality headset, but it’s not likely to be aimed at consumers. Rather, the headset seems set for developers, with Apple likely to use them as a means to build up an augmented and virtual reality ecosystem before it launches a consumer-grade headset.
And the reason for this high cost, is the Apple VR/AR headset is tipped to get a whole range of high-end mixed The inside headsets and 12 cameras. In fact, the parts inside the headset are said to cost at least $1,500.
Even if you have that cash laying about in your sofa cushions, you may need an appointment to try out the new headset. Recent speculation has suggested Apple will go with an appointment system to test out the new mixed reality headset, rather than allowing it to be picked up and tried out on the showroom floor like an iPhone or MacBook.
Apple VR/AR mixed reality headset rumored name
Apple’s VR/AR headset has been tipped to be called “Reality Pro” given it’s expected to have a whole range of features that are aimed more at developers looking to create next-generation virtual and augmented reality experiences that far exceed those of current VR/AR headsets.
Apple VR/AR mixed reality headset display rumors
A report in The Information claimed that the Apple Reality Pro will feature 12 tracking cameras that can feed information to two 8K displays in front of the user’s eyes. On top of that, the headset will also reportedly feature LiDAR sensors. However, this report was contradicted by Display Supply Chain Consultants, or DSCC, which claims that Sony is making 4K 4000 x 4000 displays for Apple’s headset with a 1.4-inch diagonal. It is important to know that in its comments DSCC did mention that LiDAR was still a possibility.
For those that don’t know, LiDAR uses lasers to measure distance, which can gather the area of a space quickly and accurately. A device can use this info to better place objects in AR and has already been used this way on the high-end iPad Pro as well as the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max.
DSCC also suggests that Apple might cram three displays total inside its headset. There could be the two Sony-made 4K displays mentioned above, as well as one larger lower resolution AMOLED display on the back. This, according to the report, would allow Apple to create a foveated display.
A foveated display refers to the fovea that sits at the back of a person’s eye, along the retina. The fovea helps with sharpening central vision. A foveated VR headset could use eye tracking to help focus an image on what the user is looking at while lowering the resolution around the periphery. This video by the YouTube channel SweViver does an excellent job explaining fixed foveated rendering (FFR).
There is some credence to the rumors of Sony developing the display panels for the mixed-reality Apple headset. Recent reports suggest that the Apple headset will use OLEDoS panels, which use silicon instead of glass substrates to create unbelievable resolutions. Sony, Samsung and LG are all working on OLEDoS panels, with Sony and LG rumored to provide displays for the first generation of the Apple VR/AR headset and Samsung and LG to provide displays for the second generation.
Ross Young of DSCC has since doubled down on some of these claims. In a recent tweet, he claimed that the headset will feature two 4K Micro OLED displays, both 1.41 inches diagonally. He also tips them to feature 4000 pixels per inch (PPI) and a peak brightness of over 5,000 nits. If all this is true, the Apple Reality Pro would have one of the brightest VR headset displays we’ve ever seen.
Apple AR/VR Headset mixed reality headset rumored features
The main feature of the Apple Reality Pro headset is mixed reality. According to Mark Gurman, the headset will include external cameras which are currently being used to test features like hand-tracking and gesture control. Part of this includes the possibility of being able to type in the air with a virtual keyboard
The hand-tracking and gesture control could also contribute heavily to the headset’s rumored Continuity features, which were partially teased in a recent patent filing. According to the patent application, Continuity and Handoff will allow users to stare at a speaker to transfer music, respond to emails in mid-air and more, all from the VR/AR headset.
Despite a report that claims Apple wouldn’t focus on games for its AR/VR headset, more recent reports insist that gaming and entertainment will be two of the headset’s core features.
In April, Gurman provided an overview of likely Apple Reality Pro features with gaming, entertainment, and collaboration at the heart of the device. Apple has apparently built versions of its iOS apps for its headset, and they’ll function a lot like their iPad counterparts. So expect to see stalwarts like FaceTime, Maps, Mail, and others as well as new tools like the Freeform collaboration app adapted for virtual reality.
Also included in this list of features was a reality dial — which you can see in this stunning Apple VR/AR headset render. This dial is rumored to allow users to switch between augmented reality and virtual reality with ease. The 3D render also includes an action button, something that exists on the Apple Watch Ultra and is rumored for the iPhone 15 Pro. We’re still unsure what specific features this action button will unlock.
If that wasn’t enough, a new report from The Information claims that the Apple VR/AR headset will let users create their own apps — regardless of whether they know how to code or not. This feature will apparently run through Siri, allowing people to use the headset to scan real-world objects and transform them into digital assets. User-created apps will also be allowed to appear on the app store, though they will no doubt need to pass Apple’s strict approvals process.
Apple AR/VR Headset mixed reality rumored specs
A lot of power is going to be needed to keep all that going, and a report from Gurman, claims the headset will come with the new M2 chip and 16GB of RAM. It may not be the most powerful chip in the Apple Silicon range, but it does offer a good balance of power and energy efficiency.
Speaking of specs, Kuo has the headset tipped to get multiple processors, suggesting Apple won’t be scrimping on power. Similarly, The Information reports that there will be two processors on board the headset, with the main processor the equivalent of the M2 chip that launched in 2022.
Kuo also claims that the headset will come with Wi-Fi 6E support, which would allow it to connect to a separate device and transfer large amounts of data with low latency. This means the headset could allow a separate device, like an iPhone or Mac, to do all the hard work and beam it to the headset without the need for a physical cable.
Apple AR/VR Headset mixed reality rumored battery
According to Kuo, the headset will apparently come with a 96W MacBook charger to keep everything powered on. It’s also been suggested that an external battery pack may be necessary, which will offer 2 hours of battery life.
Gurman claims the external battery pack will share the same form factor as Apple’s MagSafe battery pack charger, making it small enough for users to slip into their pockets in order to not add extra weight to the headset itself.
He also claims this battery will connect to the headset with a proprietary magnetic cable that locks in place. That cable is reportedly physically connected to the battery, but the power pack itself can be charged via USB-C and will come with the same adaptor included with the MacBook Pro.
Apple AR/VR Headset mixed reality rumored controls
Rumors also suggest that the Apple Reality Pro will not rely on sensors alone. Sources have told The Information that users will be able to wear a “thimble-like” device on their finger to help with hand tracking and other controls. The latest reports also claim that there will be a Digital Crown, similar to the one on AirPods Max, to switch between AR and VR modes.
A patent discovered by Apple Insider reveals that Apple has been working on some smart rings, which can be used to track finger and hand movements. This could be employed with the VR and mixed reality headset, to boost the capabilities of the external cameras. The patent also mentions being able to detect objects the user is holding, including an Apple Pencil, and act accordingly.
Apple AR/VR Headset mixed reality headset software
A whole new device form factor requires a tweaked operating system, and it looks like that’s what Apple will be providing, with reference to “reality OS” in App Store upload logs by eagle-eyed developers. A second appearance of this name, along with “xrOS”, was found in the code for the Windows 11 Apple Devices app. Developers have also found a reference to xrOS in an Apple Store Connect error message.
Recently, references to reality OS appeared in the latest Apple source code update. However, it’s not clear whether this is the software’s final name, or if it’s simply a placeholder to be replaced after the headset is unveiled.
To make matters slightly more complicated, a shell company has been filing trademarks for something called “xrProOS” in various countries. It’s not clear whether this may be an enterprise version of xrOS, or if Apple even intends to use the name.
There’s not much information on this potential software, but it would make sense for Apple to come up with a custom OS for its VR and AR gadgets. We’d hazard a guess that such an operating system would have more in common with iOS than macOS, something Gurman has confirmed in his more recent reports on the Apple Reality Pro.
Despite this Mark Gurman has made some claims about the app selection on the headset. Apparently, all Apple’s own iPad apps will be available in mixed reality, while third-party apps will reportedly be compatible with little or no extra developer effort involved.
1. Will Apple release a new headset?
The Apple “Reality Pro” mixed reality headset isn’t likely to go on sale the same day, however. Reporting generally points to a late 2023/early 2024 launch for the product.
2. What is the resolution of the Apple VR headset?
The 8K resolution offered by Apple’s AR/VR headset will be superior to headsets from Meta and other companies, including Meta’s highest-end Quest Pro 2. The Quest Pro 2 has a resolution of 1800 x 1920 pixels per eye and around 1200 pixels per inch as Meta is using LCD display technology
3. Is Apple making a virtual reality headset?
In April, Apple told Bloomberg it planned to debut its first mixed-reality headset at its Worldwide Developers Conference on June 5. The company is hoping to step into the virtual reality industry for the first time, following other tech giants like Meta and Microsoft.
4. What is Apple’s augmented reality?
ARKit is Apple’s augmented reality (AR) platform for iOS devices. It enables developers to produce apps that interact with the world around them using the device’s cameras and sensors.