In recent months, rumors about Apple working on a top-secret headset project have reached a fever pitch. But at the same time, the chatter has become increasingly convoluted — Apple is reportedly planning to use mixed reality (MR) rather than solely augmented reality (AR) or VR, but how exactly will that work? What will the device look like? And what features will it have?
That is where this roundup comes in. We have combed through the rumors and reports to find all the latest key information, then combined it in one convenient location. Here is everything we know about Apple’s upcoming mixed-reality headset, including price, features, and more.
Price and release date
As the months have rolled on, Apple’s headset has never seemed to move closer over the horizon. That’s probably to be expected with a product as ambitious as a mixed-reality headset, but it means we shouldn’t expect it any time soon.
Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June 2022 was offered up by many leakers and analysts as a possible announcement date, if not with a full-blown product reveal then perhaps a sneak peek. Yet WWDC came and went with not so much as a slight hint from Apple as to the headset’s existence.
However, there are hints to its existence in Apple’s software. Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman, for example, noted in his Power On newsletter in April 2022 that beta versions of the upcoming iOS 16 operating system were “chock-full of references to the headset and its interactions with the iPhone.” That suggests the headset is not a million miles away from a release date.
Gurman reported in May 2023 that Apple had shown a prototype of the device to the company board, and that it was targeting a launch in late 2022 or early 2023. That is later than Gurman’s earlier predictions, but the impact of the coronavirus and lockdowns in Apple’s supply chain has probably pushed things back.
I believe Apple's AR/MR headset shipping date will postpone to 2Q23 (vs. 1Q23 of market consensus) because Shanghai lockdown interrupts the development. As expected, there were no clues for AR/MR headset at WWDC 2022. Here is my prediction for Apple AR/MR headset schedule.
— 郭明錤 (Ming-Chi Kuo) (@mingchikuo) June 7, 2022
Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has also suggested a 2023, although one that could be a little later than Gurman’s projection. In a series of tweets, Kuo claimed the headset’s shipping date would be postponed to the second quarter of 2023, with a media event being held in January 2023 to unveil the device. Kuo said a development toolkit could make its way to interested parties 2-4 weeks after the event, with pre-orders happening in the second quarter of 2023. The headset would then hit store shelves some time before WWDC 2023.
As for the price, The Information has offered details, claiming it would cost $3,000. That would put it in the company of Microsoft’s $3,500 HoloLens 2, but with a price that high, it would likely be restricted to industry use. That seems a little out of character for Apple. However, a January 2022 report from Display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC) also claimed the price tag would be “several thousand dollars” and that the high price would mean the first-generation model would be aimed at professionals and developers. So that high price might have some justification.
Kuo, however, has suggested a much lower price of $1,000. This puts the headset back into consumer territory (albeit at the top end) and is more in line with what we would expect from Apple: Expensive, but still considered mainstream and consumer-focused.
What’s in a name? Apple VR Headset Concept Antonio De Rosa
Ever since the first Apple headset rumors started to leak onto the internet, people have been speculating about what the device might be called. Some early contenders have come and gone, but we’re still not particularly close to an answer. That said, there are some sound possibilities worth considering.
The first one — and the one you are most likely to see when reading up on the headset — is Apple Glass. This was mooted by leaker Jon Prosser in a YouTube video from mid-2020 after he claimed to have seen a prototype of the device. However, this name was shot down by reporter Mark Gurman, who expressed his doubt that Apple would name a product after the flop that was the Google Glass. Fair point.
More recently, Gurman has proposed a number of options Apple might go with:
- Apple Vision: Gurman believes this is the most likely candidate because it “sounds futuristic, doesn’t reference any particular technology or feature, has an optimistic vibe, and doesn’t box the product into anything other than being a new visual medium.”
- Apple Reality: This is another strong contender, in Gurman’s opinion, because it references the rOS (“realityOS”) operating system said to run the headset, plus it is “understandable and broad.” As well as that, it leaves open the possibility that Apple will extend the name to its future AR glasses by calling the MR headset “Apple Reality” and the specs “Apple Reality Glasses.”
- Apple Sight or Apple iSight: This is a potential throwback to the Apple iSight webcam. These days, though, Apple seems to be moving away from the “i” preface for new products, so it’s a less-likely prospect.
- Apple Lens: Gurman considers this unlikely because it is close to the Microsoft HoloLens name and it doesn’t quite describe the headset properly, since it will be comprised of display panels instead of see-through lenses.
- Apple Goggles: This is a bit of a fun name, perhaps reminiscent of products like the iPod Shuffle. Still, it’s thought to be unlikely by Gurman due to the association with swimming and protective goggles.
- Apple AR, Apple VR, Apple XR, Apple MR, or Apple SR: Gurman believes acronym-based names like this are the least probable possibilities because they “pigeonhole” the headset into something that might soon become outdated. As well as that, acronyms aren’t very accessible for mainstream users who might not know what they stand for. And as the final nail in the coffin, the XR name might lead to confusion with the iPhone XR.
It’s also possible that the reason we haven’t heard much in the way of names before now is that Apple simply hasn’t settled on anything yet. With the headset expected to be unveiled either late this year or in 2023, it probably won’t be too long before we have a better idea of the name.
A wraparound design and tons of cameras
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What can you expect Apple’s mixed-reality headset to look like? Well, seeing as it combines AR and VR, the chances are it will be a full wraparound set to keep you immersed while using its virtual reality features. Anything that lets you see your surroundings — like Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 or the Magic Leap 1 — would take you out of the virtual world you are experiencing. Rumors also suggest Apple’s device will be totally wireless to give you the freedom to move without being yanked back by cables — another immersion breaker.
Then there is the augmented reality side. To make this happen, the headset is going to require cameras to capture the outside world and feed it back to you. According to a report from The Information in early 2021, there will be up to a dozen cameras and lidar sensors mounted on the device, the latter of which Apple has already incorporated into devices like the iPhone 12 Pro and iPad Pro to help with augmented reality processing. However, a newer report from The Information in May 2022 asserted that there would actually be 14 cameras on the device.
Kuo, however, contends there will be 15 cameras — eight for AR, one for environmental detection, and six for “innov