Apple AR and Mixed Reality headsets: understanding the latest rumors

Apple is likely to enter a new product category with headphones in the near future. So far, there are two rumored products: the AR headset and the Mixed Reality headset, commonly referred to as AR/VR headset or “Apple Glasses”. As rumors gain traction about these products, here’s what we know so far about each one.

All about Apple’s mixed reality headset

Design and features

Apple’s Mixed Reality headset is the most rumored product to date. In January 2022, not only analyst Ming-Chi Kuo talked about it, but also analysts from Display Supply Chain.

In a DSCC article, analysts say Apple’s Mixed Reality headset will feature an “innovative three-screen setup”, with two 4K micro OLED displays and another AMOLED panel for low-resolution peripheral vision. Not only that, but it will likely include a powerful mobile processor and GPU in the headset.

Ming-Chi Kuo, for example, believes that Apple doesn’t want to position its mixed reality headset just as a gaming device, but something ready for other app categories as well. According to Kuo, Apple’s solution is expected to have “the best industrial design yet.”

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman corroborates with Kuo, saying the Mixed Reality headset will focus on gaming, media consumption and communication.

Gaming should be the main focus of the machine, especially since it will have multiple processors, a fan, very high resolution screens and its own App Store. Look for Apple to position the device as a dream for game developers. Next, media consumption. I expect Apple to work with media partners to create content that can be viewed in VR on the device. Third, communications. Look for Animojis and a VR FaceTime-like experience to be the zoom of the new era.

Price and availability

About its price, the DSCC paper corroborates an earlier report from Bloomberg saying that this headset will have a “heavy price tag”. DSCC thinks Apple’s AR/VR headset will cost “several thousand dollars”. Rumors suggested it would cost around $3,000.

Our guess is that the first-generation headset will be a high-end device aimed at professionals and developers to expand Apple’s AR/VR ecosystem. The device will also have multiple cameras enabling hand tracking and possibly a LiDAR sensor, according to rumours.

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said the first-generation headset will weigh around 300-400 grams, which compares quite favorably to existing VR headsets in the market. However, he believes Apple is already working on a second-generation design that will be much lighter, as well as an updated industrial design, a new battery system and a faster processor.

Render of the Apple Mixed Reality Headset

In May 2022, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported that Apple had “recently pitched its upcoming AR/VR headset to Apple’s corporate board.” Bloomberg previously reported that a consumer launch of the headphones was planned for 2023, but an early announcement of the device is likely. This report also indicates that the development of the headset’s operating system has accelerated in recent months.

Kuo and DSCC expected Apple to launch the product by the end of 2022, but now say it’s planned for 2023.

In addition, a lighter, more compact and affordable 2nd generation model is already in development. Kuo recently suggested it wouldn’t launch until 2025, but The elect says its supply chain sources say Apple is currently aiming to put this model on sale sometime in 2024.

All About Apple’s AR Headset

Apple's augmented reality headset

Apple loves augmented reality. The company’s CEO has made a few statements throughout 2021 about this technology and how Apple wants to embrace it as the “future” of the company. Not only that, but analyst Ming-Chi Kuo made a bold statement saying that Apple plans to replace the iPhone with AR technology in ten years.

Different from the Mixed Reality headset, which would need an iPhone nearby to work properly, Apple’s upcoming AR headset will work as a standalone product. Kuo wrote:

If the AR headset is only positioned as an accessory for the Mac or iPhone, it will not be conducive to product growth. An AR headset that works independently indicates that it will have its own ecosystem and provide the most complete and flexible user experience.

In another November 2021 report, Kuo said Apple’s AR headset will have a processor “with the same level of computing power as the Mac,” and its chip design will be the most significant difference between the Apple headset. AR and its competitors. The analyst writes:

[I]has Mac-level (PC-level) computing power, (2) it can operate independently without relying on a Mac (PC) or iPhone (phone), and (3) it supports a full range of applications rather than specific applications.

Controversial Reports Regarding Mixed Reality Headset and AR Headset

Launching Apple AR headset in 2022, glasses in 2023

Outside of these reports, it’s important to note that most stories about Apple’s AR headset talk about “VR capabilities,” which would indicate we’re talking about the Mixed Reality headset instead.

For example, in the same report that Kuo talks about this headset’s processor, the analyst predicts that it will feature two Sony 4K micro OLED displays, indicating that it could also support VR. Not only is it the same display as DSCC backed up in January, but Ming-Chi Kuo also talks about its VR capabilities.

Apple’s AR headset requires a separate processor because the sensor’s computing power is significantly higher than that of the iPhone. For example, the AR headset requires at least six to eight optical modules to simultaneously provide continuous video seamless AR services to users. In comparison, an iPhone requires up to three optical modules operating simultaneously and does not require continuous computing.

So what we really know so far is that Apple is indeed preparing an AR headset that will work without the need for an iPhone, but what we’re looking forward to this year and 2023 is a mixed reality headset , and most reports that mention an AR headset are actually for mixed reality.

For Apple Glasses, the company’s AR-only initiative is expected to be announced around 2024.

Wrap

Besides all these reports, another indication that Apple is indeed preparing to enter a new product category is the fact that the company has hired Meta’s head of AR communications by the end of 2021.

With all that in mind, expect Apple to introduce an expensive mixed reality headset, weighing around 350 grams, with a premium look, plenty of cameras, a LiDAR sensor, and more features than any other. competitor has none yet. As of now, it’s unclear whether this product will work with or without an iPhone nearby, but one thing’s for sure: when it becomes available, getting one will be next to impossible.

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