Apple will join the party next year with a VR headset featuring an integrated fan and support for wearers of prescription lenses. Apple has long been rumored to be working on an augmented reality headset similar to the much-hyped Magic Leap One. Today, however, we have some new details about the device that will precede it. According to Bloomberg, the company is planning a “mostly virtual reality device” that could launch as early as 2022. It’s currently a self-contained unit, similar to the Oculus Quest 2, and could ship with a processor that trumps even the new M1 Mac chips.
The current prototype is made of fabric, Bloomberg reports, and designed to support prescription lenses, thereby shrinking the gap between the display and user’s eyeballs. Some prototypes are said to have external cameras for basic AR functionality. It’s also possible that these sensors will be used for hand-tracking, too. That would give developers more flexibility with their content, which is expected to run on a bespoke operating system, currently codenamed “rOS,” and live inside a special App Store.
Apple has reportedly had problems with the device, however. It currently requires a fan, for instance. That led to some early prototypes that were too large and heavy for extended use, according to Bloomberg. The prescription lenses could also bring up some regulatory challenges. If Apple pushes ahead with high-resolution displays, which are reportedly better than rival offerings, it will likely be expensive, too. That means it’ll have a hard time breaking through into the mainstream, like the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and AirPods. Instead, it would be a niche proposition similar to the company’s redesigned Mac Pro, Bloomberg theorizes.
The device is also said to be more expensive than rivals probably over $1,000 with insiders believing the company may only sell one headset per day per store.
The VR headset will reportedly be more of a niche product that prepares devs and consumers for Apple’s AR glasses, codenamed N421, which may be unveiled in 2023.
Reports of Apple developing a VR headset go back to 2016. In 2019, we heard that Cupertino was working on two headsets launching in 2022 and 2023. Bloomberg’s report lines up with those dates, so next year could finally see Apple enter the virtual reality market.