2023 looks to be the year that Apple finally throws its hat into the virtual reality/mixed reality headset ring. What is expected to be called the Apple Reality Pro should launch this year. WWDC starts on the 5th of June and we're expecting Apple to go big on VR. The Meta Quest Pro, PlayStation VR2 and the new HTC Vive XR Elite better watch out, because Apple is coming.
While some headsets are targeted solely at gaming and recreation, Apple's effort is supposedly going to be suitable for work and play with both virtual reality and mixed reality. While it will feature a new operating system, Apple will of course tie it in with its iOS and MacOS ecosystem.
Apple still hasn't even confirmed the headset's existence, but it seems like the worst-kept secret in tech and it has certainly hinted at its steps into a whole new virtual world.
Apple Reality Pro rumoured release date
As this is the first Apple product of its kind, there is no precedent for when in the year it might launch. Of course, Apple could choose to tag it on to one of its existing dates. Typically it holds a spring release around March or April, followed by WWDC in June for its software and then a September date for the iPhone range.
Some have suggested that due to the new OS required for the Reality Pro, that WWDC would be a natural time for a first look and it would make sense to have a killer reveal on stage.
Some slightly confusing reports claimed that Apple's AR glasses had now been cancelled, focusing instead on a cheaper VR/AR headset. It's this headset that we expect to be called the Reality One, or Reality One Pro. Full augmented reality glasses will likely follow though.
How much will the Apple Reality Pro cost?
As the name suggests, this is likely to be a premium headset, so expect a price to match. It's likely that the cost will be slightly higher than the current offerings, which would push it towards the $2000 / £1700 mark. Some have suggested it could go as high as $3000. In comparison, Sony's PSVR 2 is $549 / £529.
Personally, I expect that the initial price will start with a 2, maybe $2299. There's likely to be high demand even at this money. It will also mean that Apple can deliver something that could be specced way beyond the competition and offer a special experience.
Design: bringing that Apple design aesthetic to a headset
There's been no shortage of fan concept designs for the Reality Pro. Most of which have taken a curvaceous approach to a standard VR headset. Looking at the latest PlayStation VR2 and Meta Pro headsets certainly sees a convergence around a style for these things but Apple doesn't always follow suit.
It would be fair to assume some influences from the designs of the Apple AirPods Max headphones, the Apple Watch and the iPhone. Titanium appears to be the metal of choice right now, and would certainly be suited for the headset, being both light and strong. No one wants to get neck pain from a headset. Hopefully Apple's obsession with user experience also goes some way to finding a solution to the motion sickness so common in VR users.
I think we're likely to see that brushed silver colouring of the Apple Watch Ultra and Mac Studio rather than the colours of the iMac here.
Apple Reality Pro OS
The Reality Pro is a brand-new product type for Apple and so is going to need a brand-new operating system. Bloomberg has suggested that this could be known as xrOS but Reality OS has also been touted in recent months.
There are likely to be new mixed reality versions of Apple's existing apps available, from Messages and FaceTime to Safari and photo viewing. Expect to be able to do similar things on the Reality Pro as you can on your iPhone or iPad but, you know, in augmented reality. A virtual office set up would be a natural addition too, allowing you to pair properly with your mac but adjust your surroundings and screens.
Then there will of course be games. It would make sense for this to come in an Apple Arcade form, with a separate section of titles designed for both virtual and mixed reality. This will of course take time for developers to populate – hence the suggestion of a WWDC release – but some titles may be able to transition from other VR titles to expand the selection.
Apple Reality Pro: Key specs
Here is where we really get into a guessing game, or at least have to use a few assumptions. Based on the idea that this will be a higher-spec unit than other devices already on the market, it's fair to assume that we are looking at least to a 4K display, likely to be classed as a form of XDR Retina display.
One leak from a reliable source has claimed that in fact we could be treated to 4K per eye, so up to an 8k resolution. The same source also claims that the Micro-LED panels could reach a brightness of 5,000 nits which might explain the price tag.
The processor will naturally be a form of Apple Silicon. While it could be a new custom name, it could also use an existing M2 or an A-series bionic chip. Potentially whatever makes it into the iPhone 15 (which would suggest a later launch).
While I suspect it won't have its own data mobile connection (though not impossible) it is likely to see a move to WiFi 6E for connectivity. This is also something that's expected for the iPhone 15.
The mixed reality part of the device will likely rely on existing Apple camera modules – the 48MP main camera in the iPhone 14 Pro Max would be a great choice but possibly overkill. Instead we may see the 12MP camera from the iPhone 14.
Apple Reality Pro: latest news
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