Rumors have long suggested that Apple is developing a mixed reality headset, potentially named ‘Reality Pro.’ The headset is expected to launch this Spring, with a rumored special event in March 2023. Additionally, it is reported that the company will unveil its xrOS (also known as Reality OS) at the WWDC 2023 conference, with widespread availability expected by the end of the year. A Bloomberg report has now provided new details on the interface, apps, and functionality of Apple’s upcoming headset.
Tracking Your Every Move
According to the report, the device’s eye- and head-tracking “will be a major selling point.” The device will be equipped with several cameras that will be able to analyze the user’s hands, as well as sensors that will keep track of eye motion. Thanks to the numerous sensors and cameras tracking your head and hands’ movement, the user will be able to perform gestures just by pinching their thumb and index finger together. The user won’t need to rely on hand controllers, unlike other headsets such as Meta Quest Pro.
Meta Quest Pro
Like the Meta headset, Apple’s Mixed Reality headset will feature both Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR). In the AR mode, virtual objects will overlay on the real world, while in the VR mode, an entirely virtual environment will be created that completely shuts out the wearer’s surroundings. A “Digital Crown” will allow users to switch between AR and VR modes. According to the report, Apple is expecting the device’s AR mode “to be a highlight of the product.”
The mixed reality headset will feature two ultra-high-resolution displays (likely 8K) for the VR mode, providing users with immersive content. When switching to AR mode, the device’s external cameras will enable a “pass-through mode,” allowing users to see the real world through the cameras on the headset. For users who wear glasses, Apple will provide custom-made lenses that will sit within the device’s enclosure.
“Immersive video watching will be a core feature of the new device,” as per the report. It will make the user feel as if they’re watching the content on “a giant screen in another environment,” such as outer space or a desert. Apple has also been working on VR media content with Disney and Dolby for the headset. While the visual capabilities of the device will be unparalleled, users will reportedly have to rely on AirPods for a surround-sound experience.
Familiar iOS-Like Interface
The Bloomberg report adds that the headset will have an “iOS-like” interface that will make it “feel familiar to Apple users.” It will feature a home screen with a grid of icons that can be rearranged and will also feature widgets. There will be many first-party apps available as well, including Safari, Photos, Mail, Messages, TV+, Music, Calendar, and even Siri.
The headset will also come with many productivity features. For example, it will have the ability to serve as an external monitor for a Mac. Using this feature, users will be able to see their Mac’s display through the headset, but control them using the trackpad, mouse, and physical keyboard. Apple is also working on “air-typing,” but “such a feature is unlikely to be ready for the initial launch,” as per Gurman.
Meta Quest Pro
Finally, the report notes that advanced FaceTime-based videoconferencing and meeting rooms will be one of the “core features” of the product. The headset, thanks to the numerous sensors and cameras, will be able to render the user’s full body and face for FaceTime video calls in VR. This feature will make the user feel as if they’re in the same room. This technology is different from Meta Quest Pro’s video call feature, which renders rather a cartoon-like avatar of the user.
Since this feature requires an immense amount of processing, it will be limited to only one-to-one FaceTime calls on the first-generation product. When there are more than two participants in a video call, the headset will display an icon or Memoji of each participant.
This brings us to the question of how long the device’s battery will last and its processor. According to the report, Apple’s Mixed Reality headset will feature a “variation of the M2 chip.” It will have a dedicated processor for graphics, which could be named “Reality Processor.” Talking about the battery life, Gurman says the device will feature up to two hours of battery per battery pack. While this figure may seem quite small, it is in line with rival AR/VR products.
Overall, Apple views the mixed reality headset as a “major new product category” and expects it to become a significant source of revenue in the future. To get people interested in the device, the company plans to have dedicated demonstration and testing areas for the headset in its retail stores after its launch.
Now that you have enough information on the functionality of the mixed reality headset, are you considering purchasing it? What features are you most interested in? Let us know in the comments section below!