Apple Inc. executives reportedly gave a sneak peek at its future mixed-reality headset to the company’s board last week, signaling that the development of the gadget has advanced.
Apple’s board of directors, which consists of eight independent directors and Apple CEO Tim Cook, meets at least four times a year. During the most recent meeting, a version of the device was displayed to the directors, according to the persons, who asked not to be identified because the discussion was private.
According to other people familiar with the project, Apple has also stepped up the development of rOS — short for reality operating system — the software that will operate on the headset in recent weeks.
This development, together with the board presentation, suggests that the product could be released within the next several months.
Apple’s next big bet is a headset that blends virtual and augmented reality elements. It’s the business’s first big new product category since the Apple Watch in 2015, and it’ll catapult the company into a still-nascent field dominated by Meta Platforms Inc., which owns Facebook. Apple is looking for fresh methods to grow its gadget business, which accounts for approximately 80% of annual revenue.
The headset is expected to be unveiled at the end of this year or early next year, with a public release planned for 2023.
It planned to debut at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June, but the content and overheating issues have caused probable delays. The business declined to comment on the headset’s future ambitions.
Apple’s sales have been increasing, with recent quarters setting new highs. However, supply-chain issues and fears about slowing consumer spending have put a damper on the company’s price. The stock has dropped roughly 23% this year, as part of a broader tech collapse, with a 2.6 percent drop on Thursday.
Outside of Apple’s regular staff, the board of directors has traditionally been the first to glimpse upcoming products. Several weeks before its public debut in 2011, around the time Steve Jobs quit as CEO, Apple executives presented the Siri voice assistant to the Apple board.
The headset has powerful processors, comparable to those found in Apple’s most recent Macs, as well as ultra-high-resolution panels. Though the first model will combine VR and AR, the business is also developing standalone AR glasses called N421, which will be released later this decade. Unlike virtual reality, augmented reality projects digital data and visuals onto the actual environment.
Apple engineers tested their augmented reality software on HTC Vive VR headsets in the early phases of the mixed-reality headset’s development. According to Bloomberg in 2017, the development team also constructed a scaled-down headset that employed an iPhone’s display, cameras, and chip sets, although the device was only made for testing and the business never meant to market it.
When the headset is finally released, it will face off against other tech behemoths such as Meta, Sony Group Corp., and Microsoft Corp. Future stand-alone AR glasses are also being developed by Meta and Alphabet Inc.’s Google.
Meta is planning to release a mixed-reality headset similar to Apple’s in the coming months. The product, codenamed Project Cambria, will cost more than $800, according to the business. According to those familiar with the device’s development, Apple’s tablet might cost upwards of $2,000. Last year, the company estimated that each Apple retail store would sell around one unit each day.
The headset was purportedly shown to Apple’s board of directors last week, indicating that a public unveiling is imminent. However, it is possible that it will not be introduced until later this year, and it may not hit shop shelves until 2023, so we may have to wait a bit to try it. Apple is working on a pair of augmented reality eyeglasses that resemble Ray-Ban wayfarer sunglasses, but they could be “several years away from release.”
Apple Silicon will almost probably power the headset, which might be even more powerful than the existing M1. Of course, a wearable would benefit from a strong chip that is also energy efficient. Apple will hopefully be able to resolve the rumored overheating issues.