Apple Headset Already in the Hands of Third-Party Developers
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman is reporting that prototypes of Apple’s widely-rumored mixed reality headset are already in the hands of third-party developers.
In a post in his latest column, Gurman claims that the headset has already been dispatched to a small number of “high-profile software developers” for testing. In the report, he writes that although Apple is still working on resolving “many kinks” in the device’s hardware, services and software, the shipments to developers have been done so they can start working on the third-party apps.
He writes that Apple will focus on its mixed reality headset in 2023, “and not much else.” According to the Bloomberg tech reporter, Apple is almost ready to launch its mixed-reality headset after seven years of development. He says that Apple’s focus on its XR device will mean an overall “muted 2023.”
The Apple headset was initially slated for launch in 2019 but has suffered several delays and postponements ever since. The last postponement occurred last year. Gurman writes that Apple’s latest plan was to launch the device in January 2023 and then ship it later in the year. That too, suffered another last-minute delay and the unveiling is now scheduled for spring this year ahead of its Worldwide Developers Conference that happens in June.
The operating system of the device will be called xrOS as earlier reported but Gurman reports that it is known as “Borealis” internally.
Under the company’s latest plan, the report states, the mixed reality device could be shipped to consumers under the name Reality Pro. The developers will be taken through its software features in June. Under this timeline, and assuming no further postponements, we could see the product shipped by the fall of 2023.
The report states that despite the “many kinks” in the device’s hardware, software, and services as well as uncertainties on how the product is to be marketed and sold, Apple now sees the mixed reality headset as its new introduction of the year in 2023, underscoring the seriousness with which it regards its mixed reality project.
To realize these aims this year, Apple is drawing on resources from its various departments, including its many hardware and software engineering departments. This channeling of resources into the mixed reality project has reportedly hampered its other projects, some of which were already grappling with various challenges including delays and budget cuts following the larger global economic slowdown which has also affected other tech giants including Meta. The hyper-focus on the mixed reality project also means we are unlikely to see many breakthroughs being showcased by the tech giant this year.
If the Gurman report is accurate, then it backs up earlier reports by supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo who claimed earlier that the Apple mixed reality headset will face further challenges and delays in 2023 that will run late into the year.
Gurman writes that Apple is also planning augmented reality experiences for its stores as well as for other retailers. Apple is currently revamping the Apple Store for iPhone, incorporating augmented reality functionalities that are activated when the users go into one of its retail stores. This would enable a user to point an iPhone device to a product and a graphic overlay would be generated on the screen which would provide additional information about the product including its specifications and pricing.
Alleged detailed specifications of the Apple headset have already been leaked which show it will run an xrOS operating system. The Information also reported that the headset features dual 4K OLED microdisplays and that these have been coupled with 120-degree field of view lenses, LiDAR depth sensors, automatic IPD adjustment as well as support for the second-generation AirPods Pro.
The headset is reportedly powered by an M2 chip as well as a secondary image signal processor (ISP). It is also said to have over a dozen cameras and sensors for different tracking capabilities including face tracking, eye tracking, hand tracking, and leg tracking.