Apple’s mixed-reality headset nears launch as its showcased to company board

Apple has been working on a mixed-reality headset for quite some time, and in a sign that it’s nearing completion, a new report claims that Apple has showcased the device to its board members.

Apple’s mixed-reality headset is finally around the corner

Mark Gurman and Bloomberg are reporting that Apple showcased “a version” of its upcoming mixed-reality headset to its board, comprised of eight independent members and CEO Tim Cook, last week for the first time. The company is also said to have ramped up development of the accompanying operating system, realityOS (dubbed ‘rOS’ internally).

The move is viewed as a sign that development has reached an “advanced stage.” The Silicon Valley-based giant has yet to comment on the progress of its first headset, though these latest developments suggest that a public announcement could be mere months away. 

According to reports, Apple targeted an official debut at next month’s WWDC 2022. But difficulties on the hardware side, particularly in relation to overheating, are believed to have delayed the announcement. Long before that, the company was originally targeting a debut in 2019 with a release the following year. However, delays pushed this back to 2021, before additional delays moved it to the current timeline. 

Apple is now expected to offer an official glimpse at its mixed-reality headset either in September alongside the iPhone 14 or at an event in early 2023. The mixed-reality headset will mark the first time Apple enters an entirely new product category since the Apple Watch was announced in September 2014. It also marks the first major new product since AirPods arrived in 2016.

What will Apple’s first mixed-reality headset bring to the table?

Rumor has it that Apple’s mixed-reality headset uses ultra-high resolution 4K micro-OLED displays coupled with eye-tracking capabilities and hand gesture support, allowing users to easily control the wearable. Alongside this is reportedly a powerful custom Apple processor that’s equivalent in terms of performance to the M1 family of chipsets used inside the MacBook and iPad lineups.

The headset’s VR capabilities are set to be one of the standout features, although Apple’s first headset will also support AR tech. The latter is reportedly made possible by an array of up to 15 cameras spread across the device. Expect spatial audio too.

All of this looks set to be backed by the realityOS operating system. It’s expected to support immersive content streaming, virtual meetings, and a whole host of AR and VR apps from both Apple and third parties. This technology won’t come cheap, though. Reports have suggested that Apple’s headset could be priced above $2,000, with some even hinting at a price point closer to $3,000.

All of this will ultimately serve as a stepping stone towards Apple’s true consumer-focused product — a pair of Apple AR glasses, which should be significantly more affordable.

Apple could be entering the AR/VR market at just the right time

The AR and VR headset market is still in its early days, but the devices are slowly becoming more mainstream thanks to entries from Meta, Sony’s PlayStation, and HTC Vive. A new report out today from Counterpoint Research reveals that Meta’s Quest 2 is the first VR headset to cross 10 million lifetime sales. 

That number pales in comparison to the number of smartphones and smartwatches that are shipped each year, yet it does represent significant progress for the segment. And with Apple’s power to sway consumers, entering the market over the coming year could be the perfect time for it to leapfrog Sony and Meta to become the market leader in yet another product category.

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