Image: Midjourney prompted by MIXED/Concept Art
Apple’s AR headset has reportedly been postponed indefinitely. The company is said to be planning a cheaper mixed reality headset instead.
Two reports shed new light on Apple’s AR plans. It was already known that the company would launch a high-priced mixed reality headset for professional users and developers this year.
An AR headset for everyday use, which has also been in development for a long time, should have been launched about a year later, writes Apple leaker Mark Gurman in his latest Bloomberg report. But launch plans have again been postponed, he says. Gurman cites “technical challenges” as the reason.
Apple’s AR headset ‘many years away’
The launch was postponed indefinitely and reduced development, writes Gurman, citing sources close to the company. Some employees doubt Apple will still bring lightweight AR headsets in the market, but their development remains a long-term goal that will continue to be researched, the report says.
“Apple’s original dream of offering a lightweight pair of AR glasses that people could wear all day is now many years away – if it ever happens,” Gurman writes.
Google and Meta also have AR headsets in development, although Meta’s plans were also delayed last year. According to reports, a first developer-only AR headset will be unveiled in 2024, followed by a more advanced product for consumers in 2026.
Apple Reality Pro could be followed by Apple Reality One
Instead of an AR headset, Apple is now planning with a cheaper version of its own mixed reality headset, according to reports. The department of more than 1,000 employees working on VR and AR technologies is now focusing on the development of the two mixed reality headsets. The latter device, less expensive, is currently planned for 2024 or early 2025Gurman writes.
There have been many reports about the high-end product, named N301, which may be called Apple Reality Pro, according to trademark filings. It’s said to have two 4K displays, an M2 chip, and a variety of different sensors built-in (see technical details for Apple’s mixed reality headset). The target price of the device, which was seven years in developmentis estimated at $3,000. The N301 is expected to be unveiled in 2023, as mentioned earlier.
As expensive as an iPhone, launching in 2024 at the earliest
A second report from The Information takes a closer look at the cheaper mixed reality headset, code name N109which has only been in more serious development since 2022 and of which no working prototype yet exists.
According to Apple’s plans, the device should cost about the same as the current iPhone, between $800 and $1,600. Gurman estimates the price at US$1,500which would put Apple in competition with Meta’s Meta Quest Pro mixed reality headset.
Apple has discussed several ways to lower the price of the headphones to reach more customers, Gurman said. These include cheaper components, such as lower resolution displays or slower chips. Fewer sensors and cheaper materials are also being discussed, as well as not using motorized lens distance adjustment or integrating the battery into the head mount, writes The Information.
VR leaker Bradley Lynch also heard from his supply chain contacts that Apple was working on a cheaper headset.
I’m not one to throw my hat to Apple rumors, but I’ve been hearing about this “cheaper” Apple HMD for months from friends in the supply chain
Prediction: will come with 1.3″ µOLED, at ~3550×3550 per eye https://t.co/2ar7N6CD4u
— Brad Lynch (@SadlyItsBradley) January 18, 2023
What the two devices will have in common is the mixed reality feature, which is the ability to use the headset for VR or AR and switch between the two modes, according to The Information report.
According to a source close to the company, the market launch is planned for 2024, but will probably be later, especially since the first helmet has also repeatedly missed the target market launch. Thus, the information coincides with the data of Gurman.
The Apple leaker speculates that the device being developed under the code name N109 could be called Apple Reality One and refers to the corresponding branded apps.