(Image: Concept by Antonio DeRosa @aderosa75)A lot of digital ink has been spilled already about Apple’s plans to enter the Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) markets with an expensive, hybrid headset of its own design. Though the headset was rumored to be arriving in 2022 to allow Apple to establish a beachhead in what many people think will be the next technological revolution, Bloomberg is reporting those plans are now being pushed back a bit to give the headset more time in the oven.
According to Bloomberg, confidential sources who are not allowed to talk on the record said the headset was supposed to be officially unveiled at Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) in June, with plans to have it be released to the public later in the year. However, difficulties have cropped up relating to overheating, the onboard cameras, and the software that ties it all together, according to these sources. Overcoming those challenges could push the launch back by several months, kicking it into 2023 at the earliest. The report states that Apple had originally planned to launch the headset in 2021, so it’s already been delayed previously, despite the fact that the company has been working on it since 2015. Apple also has over 2,000 employees working on the project, which is hard to fathom.
The fact that the project has been delayed multiple times isn’t surprising given the scope of it, according to what’s been reported thus far. When it finally arrives the Apple headset will be nothing like what’s currently on the market, both in terms of power and the ecosystem it will bring along with it. As we reported previously, Apple is planning on outfitting the device with two of its custom chips; one which will be similar to its M1 CPU for general processing, and a second chip for sensor-related duties, along with a bevy of onboard cameras to track the user. Apparently the chips originally generated so much heat they were put inside an external “box” which transmitted to the headset wirelessly, but that clunky design was shot down by Jony Ive, who used to be in charge of Apple’s design. Relying on wireless transmission would also have put more pressure on the device’s battery life. Bloomberg notes that Apple is also working on an entirely new OS for the device, and it will also ship with its own App store as well.
Allegedly, Apple’s plan is to enter the market with a true next-generation product that will have an exorbitant price to match, with rumors of it costing upwards of $2,000. This initial headset, which will allow for both AR and VR, won’t need to be tethered to any Apple device, as its internal Apple silicon will do all the processing, and somehow stay cool enough to wear. However, it has already been reported that Apple does not want the device to be worn for lengthy periods of time, which is a notable rejection of the idea that it could be used to enter some kind of Metaverse. Apple will reportedly use the launch of its expensive headset to allow the public to familiarize themselves with Apple’s plans for the AR/VR market, and will then follow it up with a more accessible (and affordable) product, which could possibly be a more slimmed-down version of AR glasses. Naturally, Apple declined to comment to Bloomberg on its future plans.
All these rumors point to the AR/VR market heating up considerably in the near future, because in addition to Apple most of the big players have also announced ambitious future plans. Sony just recently announced the specs for its second generation Playstation VR, and they are a profound leap over the ancient hardware and software currently being used. Facebook/Meta has also discussed an upcoming, high-end headset dubbed Project Cambria, which will seemingly go head-to-head with Apple’s device, and is reported to be launching in 2022.