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The metaverse is ‘off limits’ for Apple’s upcoming VR headset

News on Apple’s upcoming mixed reality headset has been accelerating in recent weeks, with several fresh reports shedding further details on the project. Now, reliable reporter Mark Gurman has chimed in with his thoughts on Apple’s vision for the device.

In his latest Power On newsletter, Gurman explained that Apple’s headset will be used primarily for short bursts of activity rather than prolonged sessions. This contrasts with other companies that are seeking to build a “metaverse” of immersive experiences that replicate real life in a digital realm.

Apple VR Headset Concept by Antonio De Rosa.
Apple VR Headset Concept Antonio De Rosa

Gurman used the example of Meta (the company formerly known as Facebook) as a counterpoint to Apple’s vision for its own headset. “Here’s one word I’d be shocked to hear on stage when Apple announces its headset: metaverse,” Gurman explained. “I’ve been told pretty directly that the idea of a completely virtual world where users can escape to — like they can in Meta Platforms/Facebook’s vision of the future — is off limits from Apple.”

That makes sense based on the leaks surrounding Apple’s headset that we’ve heard so far, which point towards a device that blends augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). According to Gurman, Apple wants its headset to provide users with “bursts of gaming, communication, and content consumption.” In other words, Apple does not have an “all-day device” in mind.

This news should not come as too much of a surprise, as Apple CEO Tim Cook himself has previously spoken publicly about this topic (albeit in a more roundabout way). In September 2016, he told Good Morning America that he preferred augmented reality “because this gives the capability for both of us to sit and be very present, talking to each other, but also have other things for both of us to see.”

With that kind of sentiment coming from the head of the company, it makes a lot of sense that Apple is designing its headset to provide an experience that still keeps us connected to the regular world, without shutting users off in sequestered digital realms.

Right now, rumors are suggesting Apple could unveil the headset at some point this year, with the most likely date being closer to the end of 2022. We’re expecting a high-end, expensive device that combines AR and VR, but the details are a bit muddied at the moment thanks to conflicting reports offering up different specs and features. You can catch up with all the news in our Apple headset rumor round-up, and hopefully we’ll find out more before the year is out.

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