An Apple headset is close to becoming a reality, with the latest rumors suggesting we could see an official announcement regarding the company's next major platform in just a couple of months.
We've been waiting for an Apple headset for what feels like an eternity. And based on plenty of rumors, supply chain leaks, and reports from industry insiders, a mixed-reality headset announcement is now very close.
And with seemingly a new rumor emerging every week concerning Apple's AR/VR headset, this guide serves as a central hub of information.
Everything you need to know about a potential Apple mixed-reality headset can be found below.
- How does VR actually work?
- Explaining the difference: Augmented reality vs. mixed reality
- Best AR devices you can currently own
Expected announcement and release date
All signs currently point to Apple debuting its mixed-reality headset at WWDC 2023, which has now been confirmed by Apple to be taking place on 5-9 June.
And, interestingly, it's been speculated that the banner image for the event shown above could potentially hint at a headset, field of view, or perhaps even lenses.
Whatever the case, industry insiders are in alignment that the headset and software platform will be unveiled at WWDC 2023, after previous reports strongly suggested an April announcement.
One of the most prominent Apple-centric reporters, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, also suggests that availability and shipments will begin in the fall following this initial announcement. This is corroborated by well-known analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
What else do we know?
There are also a few newer scraps of info that back up these suggestions.
The first comes from a profile piece from the FT suggesting that Tim Cook is pushing a device launch in 2023, despite the company's design team preferring to hold back and debut a more lightweight form factor.
The other is a set of images allegedly containing some of the headset's components - something we don't typically see until the final few months before official confirmation.
According to Gurman, an internal presentation of the headset also reportedly took place in late March at the Steve Jobs Theater for the company's top executives, which would again suggest that a public announcement is nearing.
The first of many announcements?
This debut headset, both have also pointed out, will be the first step in Apple's wider ambitions.
More devices, such as Apple AR smartglasses, are reportedly in the works, while a second-generation headset (and a cheaper model) will reportedly be available in 2025, and possibly even earlier.
Rumors and reports regarding the potential price of Apple's debut headset have been seriously wide-ranging, and, if true, a little out of character for the company.
It's a big reason why we've questioned why Apple is launching a headset, in fact.
After very early suggestions from reporters were around the $1,000 mark, and seemingly in the range of high-end VR headset rivals, both Kuo and Gurman have since upped their projections.
The Information first reported that the headset will actually be closer to $3,000 back in 2021 - therefore putting it more in line with the Microsoft HoloLens 2, which is really just an enterprise and developer tool.
Kuo has most recently settled his projection in at around $2,000 - $2,500, while Bloomberg is now also running with the $3,000 tag.
Why is the price so high?
Gurman, in his Power On newsletter, has noted that Apple would actually be losing money on each headset. His suggestion is that Apple is hoping a first-gen device will drum up enthusiasm for the space.
Whatever the final figure turns out to be, it appears it'll be considerably more expensive than your regular VR headset. And while it may be more feature-packed and premium when compared to something like the $300 Meta Quest 2, the first version wouldn't appear to be a mass-market device.
That's something that's backed up by another recent report - one that suggests Apple is working on a cheaper version of its headset that would appeal more to the mass market.
What will Apple's headset be called?
The general consensus is that Apple's mixed reality headset will be something along the lines of 'Apple Reality Pro', with 'Apple Reality', 'Apple Lens' and 'Apple Reality One' all mooted, as well.
Gurman has previously reported that a company with no public presence - Immersive Health Solutions LLC - is linked to Apple and holds trademarks to the 'Reality Pro' name, among others.
This is Gurman's current guess for the name of the device, and, really, we've not really seen many other reliable suggestions over the past 6-12 months.
It does pass the gut check, we think, fitting within Apple's typically clear naming conventions while still being broad enough to be kept around for the long term.
Design and specs
We got our first indication of what the Apple headset would potentially look like way back in 2021 when The Information published sketches of an early prototype being worked on by Apple engineers.
Based on these initial drawings, we've seen plenty of renders mocked up by designers - including Ian Zelbo, which we've featured in our images throughout.
In truth, though, there's actually very little reliable information regarding the actual look and feel of the device.
Ming-Chi Kuo has previously claimed that the headset will weigh between 300g - 400g, with lighter versions in the works for the future, but that's about it.
We would guess Apple has developed the design a little from any prototype model from several years back, though the core design language will have some similarities to the rest of the company's range.
It wouldn't be a surprise for it to borrow the Digital Crown from the Apple Watch in the same way the Apple AirPods Max did, for example.
That initial report from The Information also noted that the design would feature 12 tracking cameras that would feed two 8K displays in front of the user's eyes. This has since been refuted by Display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC), who indicate that Sony is working on 1.4-inch diagonal 4K displays.
There are currently mixed beliefs regarding the number of built-in displays, too. DSCC has suggested Apple may opt for three internal screens, with the dual Sony setup mentioned above joined by a lower-res AMOLED display on the back to allow for foveated rendering.
It also feels pretty nailed on that Apple will pack in one of its M-Series chips inside, while the platform - currently mooted to be one of 'xrOS' or 'realityOS' - itself will obviously be entirely new.
One of Gurman's recent reports indicates that the headset will feature the M2 chip and 16GB of RAM.
What will Apple's headset actually do?
For all the talk of price points, release dates, and names, we don't think there's really been any compelling information that points to who Apple is targeting with its headset.
In fact, it's still a bit of a mystery what the device will even do.
At least one report has suggested Apple isn't targeting gaming with the headset, and that makes sense given the whopping price tag suggested by tipsters, but this also means that the focus will instead be on catering to developers and more practical use cases.
An Apple headset as a reference device to help flesh out the area and generate interest for the future seems likely, then, and we think this makes much more sense.
A frothing mass-market appetite for VR/AR simply isn't there yet - as countless examples have shown - and it would be distinctly un-Apple to dive into an unproven product area, particularly with such an expensive device.
Gurman, for what it's worth, has previously talked up the device as having a focus on media consumption and communication, as well as "being a dream for game developers".
We think that passes muster, but it still doesn't necessarily mean it'll initially be a mass-market headset.
We're expecting more details on this subject to emerge as we get closer to a potential release date, so stay tuned.
Tracking the latest Apple headset rumors
It can be hard to keep track of all the latest Apple headset rumors, with more and more flooding our feeds with each passing week.
Below, you can see a recent timeline of reports that make up the information we've detailed above.
- 30 March 2023: Apple confirms WWDC event dates
Apple has now officially confirmed the dates for WWDC 2023, and, while no specific mention has been made of any headset platform unveiling, the teaser image could be interpreted as a hint to an announcement.
- 27 March 2023: Apple demos headset to company executives
Ahead of the expected launch in June, Apple has reportedly held a "polished" and "glitzy" demo event showing off the headset to the company's top 100 executives.
- 14 March 2023: Alleged Apple headset components leak
A set of images emerges purportedly showing off components of the Apple headset, though there are no clear indications of what the parts are used for - or whether they're actually included in the headset.
- 13 March 2023: Report suggests Tim Cook is pushing the 2023 release date
A profile piece from the Financial Times suggests that CEO Tim Cook sided with Apple's operations team in pushing for a 2023 release of the headset, despite reservations from the company's design team.
- 27 February 2023: Apple Reality Pro will feature air typing feature
Bloomberg's Mark Gurman indicates in his Power On newsletter that Apple is testing "in-air typing" on the latest prototypes of the headset, though the experience is reportedly not optimal.
- 24 February 2023: Apple is working on a second headset
A new report from Nikkei alleges that Apple is working on a cheaper version of Reality Pro in order to appeal to the mass market at a later date.
- 16 February 2023: Apple reportedly pushes release date back to WWDC
After most indications pointed to a spring announcement for Apple's headset, a new report from Mark Gurman suggests that Apple has pushed the initial reveal back to WWDC, which is expected in June.
- 5 December 2022: Apple headset launch pushed back to H2 2023
Despite strong suggestions regarding a springtime release date, Ming-Chi Kuo reports that the Apple headset won't ship until H2 2023.
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