The news: A new interview with Tim Cook is Apple’s best hint yet at what’s to come for augmented and virtual reality products (via China Daily USA).
When asked about many consumers being underwhelmed by the AR/VR products currently available on the market today, Tim Cook replied by saying “I could not be more excited about the opportunities in the space. Sort of stay tuned and you will see what we have to offer.”
Sam’s take: I think Cook answering questions in this way is a concrete strategy to get folks talking about what Apple’s foray into the AR/VR space will be. When Cook doesn’t want to answer a question like this, he just says he isn’t ready to share any details at this time. But to say, specifically, to “stay tuned” to what Apple is doing…that’s a direct reference that there is something big coming. I can’t wait for January.
Sam’s take: Honestly, this sounds like a pretty realistic timeline at this point. As much as I want to see it announced this year…a standalone media event for something this big does sound appropriate. That being said…the Apple Watch was announced at the end of an iPhone event in 2014…so perhaps we see a glimpse of this headset sometime this September?
The rumor: Apple’s all-new AR/VR headset isn’t dropping at WWDC, according to Ming-Chi Kuo (72.5% accurate).
Here’s why, according to Apple’s most iconic analyst…
The headset hasn’t even entered mass production yet, so an unveil for the that and the realityOS software would be quite early
Revealing everything months ahead of a hardware release could give Apple’s competitors time to catch up and copy the design and interfaces
Kuo also believes that this is “Apple’s most important product since iPhone launch,” and thus it deserves a dedicated launch event…not just a portion of WWDC
Sam’s take: There is a pretty general consensus among leakers right now that a full unveil of the AR/VR headset isn’t happening at WWDC. I was on the side of us getting at least a teaser, but these are some pretty compelling reasons from Kuo. That being said, I would be we are going to see some new augmented and virtual reality frameworks for developers to play with at dub dub.
Sam’s take: Well this is just fascinating, isn’t it? The thing is, I’m really split about what it means exactly. My bets are that we’re going to see a bunch of reveals for augmented reality in some fashion this year…even if it isn’t the exact headset. But it could happen, right? Perhaps Apple gives a teaser of the headset before a full unveil later this year. Or perhaps we just get a glimpse into realityOS (rOS). It’s going to be an exciting week ahead of dub dub!
The rumor: Apple’s first all-new product since the Apple Watch is almost ready to be shown to the masses, according to Mark Gurman (86.4% accurate, via Bloomberg).
“Apple Inc. executives previewed its upcoming mixed-reality headset to the company’s board last week, indicating that development of the device has reached an advanced stage, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The company’s board, made up of eight independent directors and Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook, convenes at least four times a year. A version of the device was demonstrated to the directors during the latest gathering,” Gurman says
An early preview of a new product for the board isn’t unprecedented…they also got a demo of Siri before anyone else back in 2011
Sam’s take: Apple showing this to folks outside the company suggests to me that they have something really special on their hands. I don’t want to say that a teaser at WWDC is happening, but I would be remiss to say that the timing sure is peculiar. If Apple can demo the product for the board, they can certainly put together a teaser for everyone else…and a developer conference would be the place to showcase an all-new platform. No inside info, I’m just saying! It’s not the craziest idea.
Sam’s take: It sounds like this headset, considering it is something entirely new, probably won’t be in our hands until early 2023. I certainly don’t believe the announcement will happen this late…but the launch seems likely around then. Maybe we get surprised and get it earlier! But my expectation is shipping early next year.
The rumor: Apple is getting closer to the launch of their AR/VR headset, according to Mark Gurman (86.4% accurate, via Power On).
As far as I know, a full-blown introduction of the mixed-reality headset is still probably out of the question in June, but I am told that beta versions of iOS 16—codenamed Sydney—are chock-full of references to the headset and its interactions with the iPhone,” Gurman says
The prevalence of these references suggests that Apple will launch the headset sooner rather than later (but no later than Fall 2023)
Gurman also suggests that this could be a sign that Apple is planning to preview parts of the headset early, such as rOS, the reality operating system that will run on it
Sam’s take: This is one of those “so close yet so far” situations where I feel like we can almost smell the AR/VR headset…even though it’s still nowhere to be seen. That being said, it feels like we’re just on the heels of an announcement sometime this year.
The rumor: Apple has completed production testing for their upcoming AR/VR headset, according to DigiTimes (60.8% accurate, via MacRumors).
Citing suppliers, DigiTimes says that the AR/VR headset prototype has passed second-phase engineering validation tests, also known as EVT2…which happens before the design validation test (DVT) stage (see infograph below)
DigiTimes adds that the headset should release by the end of 2022
The rumor: Apple’s first major product introduction since Apple Watch was set to take place at WWDC in June, but that might not happen anymore, according to Mark Gurman (87% accurate), Takashi Mochizuki and Debby Wu.
Apple is thinking about pushing the launch of the high-end AR/VR headset back “by at least a few months” due to “development challenges related to overheating, cameras and software”
The announcement may now take place closer to the end of the year, with the first units shipping in 2023
2 chips will power the headset and one is said to be as powerful as the M1 Pro processor in the latest MacBook Pros, adding to heating challenges
The cameras are said to have “also faced development challenges” but no other details are provided
Our take: It sounds like even years into development, Apple is still putting the polishing touches on this first-generation headset. I think a guarantee here is that it will be announced many months before it actually ships. Most interesting to me is how the heat issues were predicted in development…Apple’s initial approach was to put the processors in an external device that would transmit data wirelessly to the headset. But Jony Ive believed that was a poor experience so they integrated the chips directly in the headset. That sounds like the right call to me, even if it means waiting a bit longer for this one more thing.
The rumor: Apple’s entry into the virtual reality headset market will be a stark departure from their competition, according to Mark Gurman (87% accurate, via Power On).
“I’ve been told pretty directly that the idea of a completely virtual world where users can escape to — like they can in Meta Platforms/Facebook’s vision of the future — is off limits from Apple. Executives today at the highest levels of the company, and in the past like Jony Ive, have pushed for the virtual reality headset to not be an all-day device, and instead one that can be used for bursts of gaming, communication and content consumption” Gurman says
Our take: I’ve been wondering what Apple’s initial goal of this headset was going to be, and know we know: the opposite of what Meta wants. And I think this is absolutely the right call for this first-generation product. Sure, we all might want to leave our regular lives and exist in the virtual world one day…but we’re nowhere near there now. So Apple targeting things like talking to each other, playing games and watching videos…that’s smart considering that most folks have never touched true virtual reality yet (myself included). Also, I’d like to note that this rumored approach just feels more human.
The rumor: Apple is planning to focus on “gaming, media consumption and communication” for the first version of their AR/VR headset that is set to launch next year, according to Mark Gurman (87% accurate, via Power On).
“Look for Animojis and a VR FaceTime-like experience to be the new-age Zoom” Gurman says
Gaming will be powered by more than one processor, a fan and ultra-high-resolution displays (rumors point to dual 4K screens)
Our take: Animojis and VR FaceTime are the first we’ve heard of what consumer-level features will be packed into this device…but these honestly sound like gimmicks. I’m much more interested in the hardware capabilities of this headset, and most importantly, if Apple can make a AR/VR experience that is just good. Everything I’ve tried so far is uncomfortable or painful to use after just short periods of time.