Apple’s rumored augmented reality/virtual reality headgear has been in development for some time and is scheduled for release in 2023. Bloomberg published details on the headset’s user interface, supported apps, and functionality today.
The UI of Apple’s mixed reality headset will be “iOS-like,” bringing “many functionalities” from the iPhone and iPad to the device, and it will also be capable of acting as an external screen for a linked Mac. The user may view their Mac’s display in VR and utilize traditional input devices like a keyboard, trackpad, and mouse. In order to make the headgear “feel comfortable to Apple customers,” the UI was designed to closely resemble that of an iOS device. Widgets and reorganizable app icons will populate a home screen that may be personalized.
Apple will employ external cameras to study a user’s hands and eyes in order to provide eye and hand tracking, which will be a “key selling feature” for the headset. Bloomberg claims that the user will be able to navigate the headgear by staring at an on-screen option to highlight it, then activating the highlighted option using gestures. Apple’s headgear won’t need a separate controller like many others on the market.
Likely to be titled “Reality Pro,” the headgear will be able to transition between augmented reality and virtual reality. Virtual reality creates an artificial environment that completely isolates the user from their physical surroundings, whereas augmented reality uses a combination of the two. All of the headset’s augmented reality features will operate in a pass-through mode that makes use of the external cameras, and switching between augmented reality and virtual reality will be accomplished via a digital crown-style control knob.
Video conferencing will be an emphasis, with Apple introducing FaceTime-based video chatting features and conference rooms. Realistic avatars will be made accessible for one-on-one conversations, and users may have face-to-face meetings in VR using their own bodies. Icons like Memoji will be simplified for usage in group FaceTime calls.
Apple is collaborating with media companies like Disney and Dolby to develop virtual reality content, and the company is also upgrading its Apple TV+ original series and movies to be compatible with the gear. Apple wants to simulate the sensation of staring at a massive screen amid a desolate landscape or the void of space.
Apps will feature Safari, Photos, Mail, Messages, Apple TV+, Apple Music, Podcasts, and Calendar, and the headset will have a separate App Store for third-party content. Siri, as well as the keyboards on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac, will be used to enter text. Apple’s air typing capability is still under development and unlikely to be released anytime soon.
Apple will provide bespoke lenses that fit inside the shell for individuals who use glasses, and the company recommends using AirPods with the headset so that users may enjoy music on par with the visuals.
Due of the high-end Mac CPUs utilized for the gadget, the headset will reportedly include an extra battery pack to keep it from becoming too hot on the user’s face. The battery, which can power the headset for roughly two hours, is around the size of two iPhone 14 Pro Max models when placed on top of each other. By having a spare battery that can be charged, users may extend the device’s runtime.
Some of the other features that are expected to be included in AR/VR headsets include 4K microOLED screens, over a dozen cameras, iris tracking, facial expression recognition, and more. Later in 2023, perhaps in the spring, you’ll be able to purchase the headset for roughly $3,000.