With Apple's AR/VR headset moving ever closer to launch, more details are emerging of how it'll work and what it'll actually do. According to a new report by Bloomberg's Apple correspondent Mark Gurman, it's going to be the best VR headset we've seen to date – but then again, given the rumoured price tag of $3,000, it had better be.
According to Gurman (opens in new tab), the headset will have an interface that strongly resembles iOS – not a huge surprise – and will display immersive video with instant switching between AR and VR modes. You'll also be able to use it as a display for your Mac.
What to expect from Apple's AR/VR headset
Gurman's piece is really a round-up of the current leaks, but when you see them all together you get a really good feel for what the headset is going to do. Gurman describes a Home Screen with familiar app icons, customisable display widgets and the option to use a good old-fashioned keyboard and mouse as well as eye and hand tracking, and says there won't be a compulsory physical controller. Siri will be there, but a planned "air typing" feature won't be ready in time for the headset's launch.
App-wise you can expect to see Safari, Photos, Mail, Messages, Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, Apple TV+ and Calendar, and it will have its own App Store too.
One of the key focuses for this version of the headset will be videoconferencing, and Apple is working on FaceTime-based video chats and virtual meeting rooms. Your face and body will be recreated as virtual avatars for meetings, but for busier meetings you'll use Memoji-style icons instead.
Apple is also working on a virtual big-screen experience, Gurman says, with partners including Dolby and Disney as well as its own Apple TV+ service.
It's all very impressive, but I'm still reminded of the original iPad – a product Apple made without really knowing who or what it was for. The headset stories so far do sound rather like Apple is throwing absolutely everything at its AR/VR hardware, but I think it'll take a generation or two before its real usefulness comes into focus.