Skip to main content

Apple VR headset in the works, AR glasses coming later

Apple is working on a premium virtual reality (VR) headset of a similar size to the Oculus Quest, according to a report from Bloomberg citing “people with knowledge of the matter.” The device could launch as soon as 2022 with an expensive price tag.

Apple has long been rumored to be working on an augmented reality (AR) headset, and CEO Tim Cook has previously explained that his preference lay with augmented rather than virtual reality, as it “gives the capability for both of us to sit and be very present.” VR, on the other hand, can shut people off from each other.

Those concerns seem to have faded, though, with the company devoting resources to a VR headset and spending much time and money on overcoming design hurdles it has faced along the way. Some prototypes have been too bulky and heavy, for example, which the company is trying to combat by using fabric in the headset design.

The report suggests the headset will use some of Apple’s “most advanced and powerful” processors, some of which allegedly beat Apple’s Mac-based M1 chip. It also claims that it may feature a fan, which would be an unusual move if it will indeed use Apple’s incredibly efficient chips — the Apple M1 in the MacBook Air, for instance, is so efficient that it does not need a fan.

What seems more likely is that the headset containing a fan is a testing prototype, and that if the final product does indeed come with ARM-based Apple chips, it will forego the active cooling system. Another reason to doubt the inclusion of a fan is that the headset will be battery-powered, which might be put under strain by a fan (Apple’s processors, though, are incredibly power-efficient and probably less of a concern).

When VR meets AR

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Some prototypes of the VR headset reportedly include external cameras for use in AR settings, such as tracking hand movements that could be used with applications or a virtual keyboard. Apps for the platform will be based on an operating system called rOS, which will have its own App Store.

With its top-end features like a powerful processor and high-resolution displays, the VR headset is expected to be niche and expensive, with Apple apparently not expecting to sell more than 200,000 units per year. That follows a trend of Apple introducing premium devices in new categories for the company — such as the original HomePod and AirPods Max — before introducing more affordable versions later.

In this case, the eventual goal may consist of launching an AR headset or pair of glasses in the next few years, with the VR headset serving to drive up interest in the subject among Apple users. An AR headset makes sense given Apple’s expertise in spatial audio, aptly demonstrated in its AirPods Pro headphones, and its existing AR knowledge in both software and hardware (such as the iPhone 12 Pro’s lidar scanner). Watch this space.

Editors' Recommendations

Alex Blake
In ancient times, people like Alex would have been shunned for their nerdy ways and strange opinions on cheese. Today, he…
This $40K Vision Pro mod adds 18K gold to Apple’s headset
The Caviar 18-karat gold version of Apple's Vision Pro headset with its front plate in place, seen from the side.

You probably didn’t look at the $3,500 Vision Pro that Apple revealed at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) and think “you know what? I want to spend more than that.” But just in case you feel like throwing even more money at Tim Cook and friends, a company has made a custom $39,900 edition of Apple’s headset that will let you do just that.

The absurdly modified version is made by Caviar, a company known for its diamond-studded iPhones and other ridiculously ostentatious products. Instead of Apple’s silvery aesthetic, the modified “CVR Edition” features over 1.5kg of 18-karat gold, paired with black Connolly leather that is “supplied to the British Royal Court and Rolls-Royce.”

Read more
The Apple Vision Pro has given VR its iPhone moment
A person is watching a movie using the Apple Vision Pro.

"One more thing" means you're about to be treated to something groundbreaking -- and that's exactly what happened when Apple CEO Tim Cook uttered those fateful three words at the end of the recent Worldwide Developers Conference 2023 keynote. The Apple Vision Pro is not just another VR headset; no, it's an incredible piece of technology that pushes the boundaries of what we can expect from both virtual reality and augmented reality. The display tech, sensor quality, and polish are like nothing we've ever seen before in a headset — and they signal a big jump forward in VR and AR tech.

The only quibble is the price: $3,500. That's a whole lot of cash, and due to that, I'm not confident the Vision Pro will appear in every other house in the next few years.

Read more
Apple may be forced to change the Vision Pro headset’s name
A person tries on an Apple Vision Pro mixed reality headset in an Apple Store, with an Apple employee alongside them.

Apple’s Vision Pro headset has only just been revealed, but it could already be in trouble. Not only is Apple allegedly struggling to make anywhere near as many units as it wants to, but the company might even be forced to change the device’s moniker in an apparent naming oversight.

That’s because a report from Chinese site MyDrivers (here's the translation) claims that Apple might not be able to use the name Vision Pro in China, as rival tech firm Huawei had already trademarked the title in the country as far back as 2019.

Read more