Apple will release an XR headset soon. The company is unhappy with her

Apple will release an XR headset soon. The company is unhappy with her

Apple is preparing to unveil its first mixed reality headset . Last week, 100 top executives of the company tried out the accessory at the Steve Jobs Theater. Many drew attention to the problems that this product faces.

Expensive and not sure why

Five years ago, Johnny Ive, then Apple’s chief designer, showed the company’s executives a concept video. In it, a London taxi passenger puts on a mixed reality headset and calls his wife in San Francisco. “Would you like to go to London?” he asks her. In a few moments, the wife gets acquainted with the capital of Great Britain thanks to the picture seen through the eyes of her husband.

The video shown excited the top managers of Cupertino: they vividly imagined how the new device will change the business of the “apple” corporation, uniting the digital and real worlds. But that was in 2018. And now, after the presentation, enthusiasm has given way to skepticism, eight current and former Apple employees told The New York Times.

Traditionally, the California IT giant creates improved versions of products that are already familiar to consumers. So it was with Mac, iPod, iPhone and iPad. However, in the case of a mixed reality headset, the company will have to explain why people should spend money on a novelty. 

Of course, there are similar devices on the market. But the road to augmented reality is littered with stories of failure, from Google Glass to Magic Leap. Meta*, which has invested billions of dollars in the virtual reality business, has sold about 20 million $400 Quest 2s since 2020, and has reduced the price of the more expensive Quest Pro by 30% due to poor sales.

Apple plans to sell its headset for three times the price of competitor gadgets – for $ 3,000. At the same time, Cupertino cannot offer any serious trump cards. The autonomy of the model is limited to two hours of operation, and some testers found its design inconvenient.

According to Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman, the ideal way to develop the device would be to repeat the history of the Apple Watch. At first, the watch was a slow device with a strange interface and incomprehensible positioning. But over time, Apple simplified the operating system, added a fast processor and came up with a positioning for the new product – a fitness tracker and an assistant in interacting with notifications.

What is known about the headset

A device called Reality Pro will be presented at the June Apple WWDC 2023 conference. Sales will begin no earlier than the end of the year.

The headset will be equipped with external and internal cameras to track gestures with hands and eyes. To select an item in the interface, just look at it, and to navigate through the menu, bring your thumb and forefinger together. The image is displayed on two displays from Sony with ultra-high resolution. Speakers are provided, but for maximum immersion, AirPods are best.

For computing capabilities, a variation of the Apple M2 chipset, supplemented by a coprocessor, is responsible. To prevent overheating, the battery is placed in a separate unit connected to the helmet with a wire.

Reality Pro will offer two modes of operation: in virtual or augmented reality. In the first case, the user is completely immersed in the content, in the second, he sees the real world with embedded virtual elements.

The xrOS operating system will allow you to interact with Safari, Photos, Mail, iMessage and Calendar – apps familiar to iPhone users, but in a three-dimensional environment. The interface also provides a separate version of the App Store.

Of the expected features:

  • Watching movies is like on a giant screen. Apple is collaborating with Disney and Dolby, and is filming its own VR content for the TV+ library.
  • FaceTime video calls with photorealistic avatars that mimic the face and body of the user. The function is too demanding on the hardware, and therefore only fully works when talking one on one.
  • External monitor mode. The headset will broadcast the image from the Mac computer, allowing you to work with a physical mouse and keyboard.
  • Games. Apple has created a VR gaming engine and made it available to third-party developers.