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mixed-reality headset

Rumours are in plenty about Apple’s next hardware. Will we get to see a mixed-reality headset?

The Telegraph gets you the details

Mathures Paul | Published 16.05.23, 08:21 AM
Is a mixed reality headset in the works at Apple headquarters?

Is a mixed reality headset in the works at Apple headquarters?

Sourced by the correspondent

January 2007. Steve Jobs carried onstage at Macworld in San Francisco an early model of the iPhone that featured a plastic display. When he kept it in his pocket, he found that his keys scratched the surface. Something needed to change — the screen. He decided six months before launch that Apple needed to replace the plastic display with glass. It was a near-impossible task. Tim Cook, who then lead operations, and others were worried because a glass display wouldn’t be durable enough if a customer dropped the phone. Further, Jobs was told by some company executives that a more resilient glass would take another three to four years. Jobs never took ‘no’ for an answer. It had to be glass and it had to be on the iPhone by June.

The book After Steve, by Tripp Mickle, gives a fascinating account of what happened next. Jobs called the CEO of the glassmaker Corning and said its glass was of no use. Corning CEO Wendell Weeks arrived in Cupertino to meet Jobs and told him there was a product they called “gorilla glass” which was durable. Apple quickly began work with Corning to produce enough glass in six months so that the iPhone could have a display that nobody else had. It also proved how quickly Cook could get work done; logistics was Play-doh in his hands.


The story finds a new dimension when we look at what could happen at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, which is scheduled for June 5 to 9. It’s here the company may announce a mixed-reality device, which has reportedly been in the works for several years and there have been delays because the company is known to deliver products that are perfect. Apple hasn’t acknowledged that a product like this is being developed.

It will be a new chapter

What if the product gets unveiled? What can it offer? A recent Wall Street Journal report states that the mixed-reality headset will resemble a pair of ski goggles and will come with a battery pack. It will mesh augmented reality and virtual reality into one device. For a gamer, wearing the headset would mean experiencing virtual worlds through the screen in the goggles but, at the same time, be able to see the physical world around them which will be made possible by outward-facing cameras.

The stakes are obviously high, given the amount that has gone into the making of the product and what it means for Apple. The headset has apparently been in development for around seven years, which is about twice as long as the iPhone. It will also be Apple’s first new computing platform to have been developed completely under Tim Cook’s leadership. The iPhone, iPad and Watch have all been conceived under the watch of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who died in 2011. Between that sad date and today, Cook has helped grow his company’s market capitalisation grow from around $350bn to over 2.5tn and the company has been running full steam, despite the pandemic.

It remains one of the few tech companies that hasn’t taken to job cuts to survive post-pandemic blues. And it doesn’t plan to either. Cook has, in fact, gone on record to say that mass layoffs are not on the agenda and it’s something that’s considered a “last resort”.

If rumours are to be believed, several sources have said that the headset will come with a battery in a pack that’s the size of something that fits in one hand and is separate from the goggles.

Apps and more apps

Having a headset is one thing but making consumers pick one up is a different game altogether. What can Apple offer in terms of software?

Mark Gurman, who reports on all things Apple, at Bloomberg, has said a number of iPad apps will be adapted for the headset, and users will be able to access existing App Store content through the 3D interface of the device. So apps like Safari, Calendar, Photos, Music and other apps will be optimised for the device and also multiple apps will be able to run simultaneously. It can also be a great device for the Fitness+ app. Lately, Apple has pushed quite a bit into sports, so we may expect immersive viewing experiences for Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer.

Apple also has a streaming service, which can find a place on the headset. Since expense will not be an issue, there will be some amazing games.

But all this can’t be enough. The iPod was special for a reason and the iPhone offered a camera, a phone and a web browser. Such headsets can be a good device to enhance education and perhaps even help doctors perform surgery. Nobody’s sure of the big app until the headset launches.

There is competition but….

Meta Quest 2 —a rival product — is in the market but the company is finding it difficult to expand its user base

Meta Quest 2 —a rival product — is in the market but the company is finding it difficult to expand its user base

Apple seems to be late to the headset game but not quite. The company is known for perfecting a product before releasing it. Metaverse as an idea hasn’t worked and it will be years before it generates interest.

Meta Platforms has had a tough run to maintain sales of its virtual reality headsets; Walt Disney Co. has done away with the division that was strategising around metaverse. Microsoft recently shut down a social virtual-reality platform it acquired in 2017, called AltspaceVR.

Before Apple entered the smartwatch category, it wasn’t something that was hot. The same goes for the wireless earbuds. So, there is a chance that Apple may turn the tide around for mixed reality headsets.

If it is announced at all…

Once again, the headset is currently in rumour zone and a lot of sources have to say a lot of things. A new report suggests that the Apple headset will be available only in September while shipment forecasts for 2023 are estimated at 200,000 to 300,000 units, according to Apple analyst Ming-chi Kuo. The device is expected to be priced around $3,000 but as production picks up, prices will come down. The company will rely on its biggest asset — a strong developer ecosystem, which continues to trust Apple and its hardware. These are the people who are expected to make those “big” apps and give Apple its next milestone.

Last updated on 16.05.23, 08:21 AM

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