Latest rumors about Apple AR and mixed reality headsets

Apple is likely to enter a new product category with headsets in the near future. There are two rumors about products so far: the AR headset and the mixed reality headset, which is usually referred to as an AR/VR headset or “Apple Glasses”. As rumors about these products gain traction, here’s what we know about each of them so far.

All about Apple’s mixed reality headset

design and functions

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

In a DSCC paper, analysts believe Apple’s mixed reality headset will feature an “innovative three-display configuration” with two micro-OLED 4K displays and another AMOLED panel for low-resolution peripheral vision. In addition, the headset will likely pack a powerful mobile CPU and GPU.

Ming-Chi Kuo, for example, believes that Apple not only wants to position its mixed reality headset as a gaming device, but is also ready for other application categories. According to Kuo, there’s an expectation that Apple’s solution will have “the best industrial design yet.”

Apple AR VR headset

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman confirms Kuo, saying the mixed reality headset will focus on gaming, media consumption and communication.

Gaming should be a strong focus of the machine, especially given that it will feature multiple processors, a fan, extremely high-resolution displays, and its own app store. Look to Apple to position the device as a game developer’s dream. Next, media consumption. I expect Apple to work with media partners to create content that can be viewed in VR on the device. Third, communication. Look for Animojis and a VR FaceTime-like experience to be the new-age Zoom.

Prices and Availability

In terms of price, the DSCC paper confirms an earlier report by Bloomberg that said this headset will come with a “heavy price tag”. DSCC thinks Apple’s AR/VR headset will cost “several thousand dollars.” Rumor had it that it would cost around $3,000.

We expect the first-gen headset to be a high-end device aimed at professionals and developers looking to expand Apple’s ecosystem in AR/VR. The device will also be rumored to have multiple cameras allowing for hand tracking and possibly a LiDAR sensor.

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

Renders of Apple Mixed Reality headsets

In May 2022, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported that Apple “recently demonstrated its upcoming AR/VR headset device to the Apple company board of directors.” Bloomberg previously reported that a consumer launch of the headset is planned for 2023, but an early announcement of the device is likely. This report also states that the development of the headset’s operating system has ramped up in recent months.

Both Kuo and DSCC expected Apple to launch this product by the end of 2022, but now say it is expected in 2023.

In addition, a lighter, more compact and affordable second generation model is already in development. Kuo recently suggested this wouldn’t launch until 2025, but the electr says its supply chain sources indicate that Apple is currently aiming to have this model available for sale sometime in 2024.

All about Apple’s AR headset

Apple's augmented reality headset

Apple loves augmented reality. The company’s CEO made some statements throughout 2021 about this technology and how Apple intends to embrace it as “the future” of the company. In addition, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo made a bold statement saying that Apple plans to replace the iPhone with AR technology in ten years.

Unlike the mixed reality headset, which rumored to require an iPhone nearby to function properly, Apple’s upcoming AR headset will work as a standalone product. Guo wrote:

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

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

[I]It has Mac-level (PC-level) processing power, (2) it can run independently without relying on a Mac (PC) or iPhone (phone), and (3) it supports a more comprehensive range of applications as specific applications.

Controversial reports on mixed reality headsets and AR headsets

Introducing Apple AR headsets in 2022, glasses in 2023

Aside from those reports, it’s important to note that most of the stories about Apple’s AR headset talk about “VR capabilities,” which would mean we’re talking about the mixed reality headset instead.

For example, in the same report where Kuo talks about the processor in this headset, the analyst predicts it will come with dual Sony 4K micro-OLED displays, indicating it could also support VR. Not only is it the same display as DSCC, which was secured in January, but Ming-Chi Kuo also talks about its VR skills.

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

What we really do 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 into 2023 is a mixed reality headset, and most reports mention this an AR headset is actually the mixed reality headset.

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

Wrap up

All of these reports aside, another indication that Apple is indeed preparing to enter a new product category is the fact that the company has hired Meta’s AR communications lead through the end of 2021.

With that in mind, expect Apple to unveil an expensive mixed reality headset that weighs about 350 grams, has a premium look, lots of cameras, a LiDAR sensor, and more features than any competitor. As of now, it’s not entirely clear if this product will work with or without an iPhone nearby, but one thing is certain: when it’s available, it’s going to be almost impossible to get hold of one.

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