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 introduce 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, Apple leaker Mark Gurman writes in his latest Bloomberg report. But plans for the launch have been postponed again, he says. Gurman cites “technical challenges” as the reason.
Apple’s AR headset “many years away”
The launch has been postponed indefinitely and development scaled back, Gurman writes, citing sources close to the company. Some employees doubt Apple will ever bring lightweight AR headsets to market, but their development remains a long-term goal that will continue to be researched, the report said.
“Apple’s initial dream of offering a lightweight pair of AR glasses that people could wear all day now appears many years away — if it happens at all,” Gurman writes.
Google and Meta also have AR headsets in development, although Meta’s plans were also delayed last year. According to reports, an initial AR headset for developers only 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 1,000-plus employee department working on VR and AR technologies is now focused on developing the two mixed reality headsets. The latter, lower-priced device is currently set for 2024 or early 2025Gurman writes.
Numerous reports have appeared about the premium product, code-named N301, which could be called Apple Reality Pro, according to trademark filings. It is said to have two 4K displays, an M2 chip and a variety of different sensors built in (see technical details of Apple’s mixed reality headset). The targeted price of the device, which has been in development for seven yearsis estimated at $3,000. N301 is expected to be unveiled in 2023, as previously mentioned.
As expensive as an iPhone, launch in 2024 at the earliest
A second report from The Information takes a closer look at the less expensive mixed reality headset, codenamed N109which has only been in more serious development since 2022 and of which no working prototype exists yet.
According to Apple’s plans, the device should cost about the same as the current iPhone, between $800 and $1,600. Gourmet estimates the price at 1,500 US dollarswhich would put Apple in competition with Meta’s mixed reality headset Meta Quest Pro.
Apple has discussed several ways to lower the price of the headset to reach more customers, Gurman said. These include cheaper components, such as lower-resolution displays or slower chips. A smaller number of sensors and cheaper materials are also being discussed, as well as not using a motorized lens distance adjustment or integrating the battery into the head mount, The Information writes.
VR leaker Bradley Lynch has also heard from his supply chain contacts that Apple is working on a cheaper headset.
I am not one to usually throw my hat into Apple Rumors, but I have been hearing about this “cheaper” Apple HMD for months from supply chain friends
Prediction: Will come with 1.3″ µOLED, at ~3550×3550 per eye https://t.co/2ar7N6CD4u
– Brad Lynch (@SadlyItsBradley) January 18, 2023
What both devices will have in common is the Mixed Reality feature, which is the ability to use the headset for either 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 headset also missed the targeted market launch several times. Thus, the information coincides with Gurman’s data.
The Apple leaker speculates that the device developed under the codename N109 could be called Apple Reality One and refers to corresponding trademark applications.