Apple’s long-awaited mixed reality headset is still deep under wraps, although recent reports have not only shed what appears to be new light on some of the features coming to the fruit company’s first AR/VR headset, but also a possible unveiling window and naming scheme. On the flipside, it also now appears Apple may be delaying its plans for a full AR device, which were allegedly planned as a follow-up to the company’s MR headset.

According to a Bloomberg report, Apple is putting its plans to release a full AR headset on hold, as the company is allegedly planning what is described as a “lower-cost version” of its MR headset first—stipulated to arrive sometime in 2024 or early 2025. Its first MR headset, which reportedly will cost around $3,000, is said to arrive sometime this year.

Citing people familiar with internal deliberations, Apple’s 1,000-person Technology Development Group dedicated to AR/VR is focused on the first two mixed reality headsets now, however the company still maintains teams dedicated to technology that would go into standalone AR glasses.

A fresh Bloomberg report maintains Apple’s upcoming MR headset is set to be unveiled ahead of the company’s World Wide Developer Conference in June. The report maintains the name is likely Reality Pro, and is slated to ship sometime in Fall of 2023.

Bloomberg says the device is already in the hands of “a small number of high-profile software developers for testing,” which will allow them to get started on third-party apps. The device’s operating system, currently code named ‘Borealis’, will be publicly named xrOS. The original article, which includes reported specs and features, follows below:

Original Article (January 4th, 2023): There’s a lot of new details here, and of course we can’t substantiate it even if we tried. We’ve restructured the main takeaways, courtesy of The Information via MacRumorsinto a sort of fantasy spec sheet:

Reported Apple MR Specs

  • Resolution: Dual Micro OLED displays at 4K resolution (per eye)
  • FOV: 120-degrees, similar to Valve Index
  • Chipset: Two 5nm chips. Includes a main SoC (CPU, GPU, and memory) and a dedicated image signal processor (ISP). Chips communicate via a custom streaming codec to combat latency.
  • Battery: Waist-mounted battery, connected via MagSafe-like power cable to the headset’s headband. Two-hour max battery life, although hotswappable for longer sessions.
  • PassthroughISP chip contains custom high-bandwidth memory made by SK Hynix, providing low latency color passthrough
  • Audio: H2 chip, providing ultra-low latency connection with the second-generation AirPods Pro and future AirPods models. No 3.5mm and possible no support for non-AirPod BT headphones.
  • Controller: Apple is said to favor hand-tracking and voice recognition to control the headset, but it has tested a “wand” and a “finger thimble” as alternative control input methods.
  • Prescription Lenses: Magnetically attachable custom prescription lenses for glasses-wearers.
  • IPD Adjustment: Automatic, motorized adjustment to match the wearer’s interpupillary distance.
  • Eye Tracking: At least one camera per-eye for things like avatar presence and foveated rendering
  • Face & Body Tracking: More than a dozen cameras and sensors capture both facial expressions and body movements, including the user’s legs.
  • Room Tracking: Both short- and long-range LiDAR scanners to map surfaces and distances in three dimensions.
  • App Compatibility: Said to have the ability to run existing iOS apps in 2D.
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Then there are some design rumors, which don’t fit so well into our fantasy spec sheet. The Information says it has reconfirmed these previously reported rumors.

Design Rumors

  • Outer Shell: Aluminum, glass, and carbon fiber to reduce its size and weight. Cameras are largely concealed for aesthetic reasons.
  • Presence Displays: Outward-facing display can show user’s facial expressions and also presumably eye movements. Said to be an always-on display similar in latency and power draw of Apple Watch or iPhone 14 Pro.
  • Dedicated Passthrough Switch: Digital Crown-like dial on its right side to switch between VR and passthrough.
  • Headstrap: Various available, including consumer-focused headstrap similar in material to Apple Watch sport bands with built-in speakers. Unspecified, but different headstrap targeted at developers.

Apple supplier Pegatron is said to have already assembled “thousands of prototype units of the headset” over the course of 2022 at its Shanghai-based facility.

According to four people with knowledge of the matter, The Information reports that Apple could price its MR headset around $3,000 or more depending on its configuration.

The report maintains the headset was initially supposed to launch in 2022, although by now it’s clear it’s obviously been delayed. A previous Bloomberg report alleged this was due to “overheating, cameras and software” having been stumbling blocks along the way to launch.

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  • M

    I find it very curious they would opt for the waist battery pack when reports said Ive was adamant to make it standalone. Seems like they just couldn’t get the thermals low enough inside the headband y’t. But It does mean it should be extremely low profile now. The 120 degrees seems off to me as well, I dont think it’s enough to meet Apple’s entry requirements to be a monitor replacement. Is it possible that’s per eye?

    • Jay

      As much as I really would like high FOV. With Apple targeting using the headset while working, most of the time I’d be focused on a screen and then as I refocus on another screen I naturally rotate my head to refocus, the peripheral view is just used to locate what I’ll be looking at. I guess it all comes down to if its primary use case is to replace the setup every office worker has of 2-3 regular screens in which case high resolution is the most important as we sit around reading through documents all day. If they instead wanted to target being a movie box with a large immersive movie screen then a bigger FOV would likely be nice.

    • Moonbeam

      I’d gladly trade my headset for one with external battery. They overheat your face and drag the whole thing down. There’s no drawback if you wear the battery around your waist, only advantages.

      • Andrew Jakobs

        Have you ever had a headset with the battery on your waist? I have (wireless module for HTC Vive Pro), and it’s almost just as annoying as the cable directly to your PC (using kiwi pulleys, which already is an improvement over no pulleys). The battery cable that runs down will sometimes get stuck or too loose so you’ll hit it when holding your controllers close.

        • tc tazyiksavar

          I disagree. I tried a similar setup as well, and would absolutely prefer a ligher headset and not to strap a battery around my head at all. Tradeoffs are so much better.

        • Moonbeam

          Yup. A second 20Ah power bank for Oculus. Cable clipped to the back of the headset, battery clipped to my belt in the back. Cable doesn’t even touch me unless I move really weird. No big deal..

        • lynx

          I bought an exteral battery pack with Quest V1 on day one. It brought the playtime to 8 hours instead of 2. If it got in your way then you are doing it wrong. Get velcro straps to direct the cable to the back of the head. Wear a sweatshirt and pipe the cable down your back. Hook battery pack to waist and plug in the cable.

          • Andrew Jakobs

            “you’re doing it wrong”, but immediately, “you have to do this and that and such and so”. Also sometime when I bend over the clip of the battery pops over the top elastic of my pants, falling down and jerking the headset. Best are batteries just around your head, like the hotswappable ones if third party headstrap for the Quest 2.

    • gothicvillas

      I would rather prefer small external device Gamecube size to sit in the room and wirelessly connected to device. This way they could shift some hard legwork to the external processors and save the space to place battery in the HMD. Having any cables for Apple headset just sounds not right…

    • Dave

      If the battery is attached to the waist, it’s still a free form mobile headset where you can move around without attached to an external source. Secondly, 120 seems off, why? Thirdly, 4K per eye is higher than the Aero and Pimax Crystal and these are ok as monitor replacements in terms of resolution (although I would say they both suffer from other graphical artifacts like chromatic aberration, red shift) this should give equivilent HD levels anyway.

  • gothicvillas

    I lile to hold things in my hands when i play VR. Doesnt sound like gaming device

    • Cooolone

      It’s not it’s something to replace your monitor

      • Moonbeam

        Then maybe they should just make one without all the other bells and whistles. Feet tracking?…

      • MasterElwood

        Why would a simple monitor replacement have troubles with thermals and battery life?

        • Cooolone

          This is their first dive at the tech

        • Jay

          I’d argue that although now getting close, nothing in VR is good enough yet that I’d be happy spending 8 hours reading documents a day without needing an eye replacement by the end of the week.

      • ZeePee

        Tbh, nreal air is the closest we’ve got to monitor replacement.

        It’s 77g, can produce oled level image quality, and it’s 47 ppd.

        FoV is small but large enough for a monitor.

        This will probably produce a better experience, but not better resolution, and it won’t be anywhere near as light as 77g either.

  • K E

    Still no controllers?

  • David Wilhelm

    Unity. lol.

  • psuedonymous

    More than 6 years and several rumoured design variants (remember back in 2018, when it was toooootally confirmed to be an 8k per eye HMD with WiGig tethering to a Mac basestation?) later, and all signs still point to Apple doing nothing more than internal research with no consumer product targeted.

    • Nevets

      Well, you don’t really know, psued – these “signs” aren’t necessarily veridical. And remember that Apple jumps into a market when it’s ready, and has no desire to be first.

      • psuedonymous

        Remember that Apple (like MANY other companies) will build multiple internal hardware prototypes just to test specific UI solutions in the course of normal experimentation (why Apple built an entire line of touchscreen prototypes between the Newton and the iPhone despite never releasing a single consumer version during those 15 years).
        The continuously and wildly changing purported ‘specs’ over the last >6 years of ‘leaks’ mesh well with a series of internal prototypes, and not not match at all with any sort of imminent consumer product – which will have a lead-time of several years of effectively static specifications before public unveiling.

        • Nevets

          Ah OK, fair point, I see what you mean now.

        • ZeePee

          I suppose the difference is that VR, particularly XR, has already arrived.

          Competitors are now in the space, taking the lead.

          Yes, Apple doesn’t want to be first necessarily.

          But XR is already off and running.

          No phones had touchscreens before the iPhone.

          So, that was technology brewing for a long time that no one had seen before.

          This headset for example, while better than anything else out there if the specs are true, isn’t anything like that.

          There’s not much they can do other than to improve on the existing products from competitors.

          To me it seems like they were simply working towards a true MR headset that is small and light and high resolution oled.

          And since it was early days for such an XR device, specs have of course wildly changed. Its not unimaginable that their roadmap for launch was years out at the point.

          However, these specs are indeed possible now, whereas it wasn’t necessarily back in 2018.

          And this sort of headset is not only possible, but sounds realistic as to what Apple would want.

          So for me I see a stronger case for this being the consumer headset coming near term.

          • psuedonymous@mailinator.com

            “No phones had touchscreens before the iPhone”

            Are you serious? Network-connected PDAs had been around for years before the iPhone, with touchscreen ubiquitous. e.g. the O2 XDA was released a full 5 years before the iPhone 2G, with a colour touchscreen and such features as installable applications and copy & paste, which were beyond the iPhone 2G at launch.

  • Foreign Devil

    This is what you call an acolyte of the Great Apple.

  • Nevets

    They’re not selling it to me. And do I read correctly that you reportedly need Airpods to use it? Airpods don’t even fit in my ears.

  • Nevets

    Indeed…all Steve Jobs did was churn out endless iterations of the iPhone, some of them almost indistinguishable from the last. It would have been good for him to see his company deliver some next-level computing products before he popped his clogs (albeit Apple is merely following where Meta, HTC, Valve and Sony have trodden).

    • Edwin

      Wake up. You are describing the Apple post-Steve Jobs. The iPhone has not advanced much since he left us.

      • Indeed.
        Apple with & without Steve are two COMPLETELY different animals.
        For one thing, he was extremely concerned with, and rightly so,
        mistakes possibly slipping through the cracks and tarnishing Apple’s reputation.

    • Octogod

      You’re confusing then with today. Nowadays phones have less defining features, so there is less innovation.

      Jobs only released five versions of the iPhone. Each version was a revelation, at their time.

  • sfmike

    Not at all interested in more overpriced electronics aimed at the Apple cult.

  • Till Eulenspiegel

    These are made for developers, cheaper ones will come later.

    External battery is similar to using powerbank – the advantage being swappable. Apple should perhaps make a small battery that can magnetically attached to the headset like current iPhones?

    The compulsory Airpods Pro is for the 3D spatial audio that they developed, it won’t work with other headphones or IEMS. I think you also need an iPhone to sign in with your Apple account, so non Apple users are excluded.

  • External battery connected via a cable???

  • poltevo

    I don’t trust any rumours about Apple’s headsets. Too many of the analysts don’t seem to know what is technical possible, so it becomes more of a wish list of specs instead.

  • Ookami

    “No 3.5mm and possible no support for non-AirPod BT headphones.”
    ah yes everybodies favorite feature of apple devices.

    • Jonathan Winters III

      Yes indeed. Many prefer wired headphones to avoid having bluetooth radio signals penetrating the head for hours while listening to music. Might be a health concern for some, me included.

      • Jistuce

        I mean, the air is still saturated with 2.4GHz and 5GHz radio waves in almost any place you might be, and has been for a long time now. One pair of headphones isn’t changing that either way.

        There’s good reasons to prefer wired headphones, but “bluetoooth is a health issue” is not really one of them.

        • MosBen

          I dated a woman who didn’t like it when I would stand next to the microwave while it was running and instead wanted me to stand 5-10 feet away. She didn’t want to hear that 5-10 feet doesn’t make a difference to waves that travel at nearly the speed of light.

          • Christian Schildwaechter

            Though her main concern wasn’t valid, the distance from the radiation source makes a big difference. Your argument would only be valid for a laser, where all of the beams energy is targeted in one direction. But in most cases energy will be radiated in all directions, so the distance from the source is basically the radius of a sphere on which the radiation is evenly distributed.

            The surface of a sphere is 4 * Pi * radius^2, so if you double the distance, you quadruple the surface. Meaning standing 10ft instead of 5ft away from a radiation source will reduce the radiation dose by 75%. Which is a good thing, because if the sun acted like a laser and radiation didn’t fall exponentially with distance, earth would be evaporated in an instance. Of course none of this matters for a (non defect) microwave oven, as these are designed to internally reflect the microwaves indefinitely until all their energy has been absorbed and turned to heat, so the very purpose of an oven.

          • MosBen

            Yes, you got to it in the last sentence. There’s no dangerous amount of radiation emitted within a 5 foot radius of a normal working microwave, so the diffusion at 10 feet doesn’t matter. The point was that her fear of the microwave was irrational and her solution fairly silly given the reality that microwaves are safe. Also, I made an error in that I referred to the woman that I dated when it was actually her mother. And man, for someone that knew the particulars of that relationship, that would be a pretty funny mixup!

  • Edwin

    $3,000 plus possibly being locked to custom cables, non-replaceable batteries, custom AirTampons, recurring charges. It won’t interoperate with anything else from anybody. When Google came up with theirs many years ago, Apple tried hard to ridicule users and the technology so can’t say I’ll be rooting hard for them.

  • Dawid

    Regarding hardware it looks like a dream headset (except from the price). But will this also be gaming or business only device? What VR appps will be available for it? I hope it is not only for watching movies, some kind of virtual screen and some basic passthrough demos.

    • NL_VR

      well it will not be for gaming thats sure

  • My Thoughts

    This should transform the VR/AR market. I look forward to it.

  • Chaven Yenketswamy

    For $3000 I could buy a new gaming laptop and a Meta Quest 3.

  • Sven Viking

    The device’s operating system, currently code named ‘Borealis’

    Half-Life 3 confirmed for Apple’s XR devices.

  • Foreign Devil

    Non Apple user here. Would this device be able to play VR games and apps I bought on Steam? I”m guessing no…

    • sfmike

      I can’t imagine that many developers fighting to build apps for this overpriced niche product when they hardly want to develop for the VR systems we already have a base for.

    • Jay

      We’re more likely to see interesting innovation around regular productivity apps being more useful in VR. Something ‘exciting’ like emails, messaging, web browsing etc as currently all that’s pretty sad. VR gaming is likely to be an after thought

      • Christian Schildwaechter

        VR as a feature is likely to be an after thought. The first rumors already positioned the Apple HMD as a mostly developer device for creating AR apps that will run on future Apple AR glasses that are still years away. And the current state of rumors seems to be that it will be presented at the Apple Developer Conference and be priced way above the consumer and enthusiasts market. It will not even offer the option to add the standard input type used by all VR headset and necessary for compatibility with existing apps, but still be packed with so many sensors that it wasn’t technically feasible to integrate the battery.

        The later is quite astonishing for a company that tends to value extremely compact devices, never offered a phone or tablet with a swappable battery and was one of the first to remove those from laptops. Hinting again that this is a transitional product aimed at developers and companies that can create their own software solutions. The sole reason why it might be usable as a VR headset is most likely that current AR see-through displays cannot provide the resolution, FoV or contrast that Apple considers necessary. So right now their AR developer devices have to be realized as VR passthrough, with VR being a feature that will most likely no longer be available on a consumer version no longer based on passthrough in a few years.

        The most astonishing part is that so many people even consider this a VR HMD, just because everybody wants a VR HMD with similar specs and hopes that Apple will give the VR market a push. And come up with use cases like virtual monitors as desktop replacements to still categorize it as a VR headset, as Apple obviously will not focus on games. Even though Apple has never left any doubt that their interest is in AR and, besides a short-lived MacOS HTC Vive compatibility aimed only at content creators and never users, completely ignored VR in their product line. Actually Apple seems to have been a/the main customer for Varjo’s USD 12,000 XR-3 HMD with 12MPixel color passthrough, the technically best device available to use internally to develop VR or AR software for future headsets on. So Apple are massive VR users, but still see it as a niche product and a metaverse based on it as impractical, simply because most people don’t want the isolated experience.

        And I’m pretty sure that (by now) Meta thinks the same, they just don’t have the option to wait many years for AR glasses to become viable. They have to position themselves now and grab a huge part of the market before the current mobile platform owners Apple and Google can utilize their existing mobile user base to also dominate AR. But just because Meta has to push VR doesn’t mean Apple will bother to support it beyond what is technically necessary, let alone release devices dedicated to it.

        • Guest

          Oh sure, utilize their existing mobile user base!

          • Christian Schildwaechter

            According to several sources Apple will try to make virtual meetings one of the main use cases of their HMD, similar to Meta. In contrast to Meta they will start by creating an AR iMessage client for the new HMD, and extend the current Messages app on iPhones and iPads to include new AR features, chat room and video capabilities, with the new mobile app release launching alongside the HMD.

            Basically the HMD will provide the high end version that will be able to communicate with the existing 1.2bn monthly iMessage users on other Apple devices. So they start with the seamless integration into their existing services that Meta always wanted, but never managed to get working properly. I’d say that qualifies as utilizing their existing mobile user base.

        • XRC

          Apple and Google’s AR development ecosystem is already developing, thanks to Trojan Horse foundations laid by AR Kit and AR Core respectively; watch out meta…

    • MeowMix

      with what controllers ?

  • sfmike

    As the cult leader on this site you wouldn’t understand. Some of us were deprogrammed years ago.

    • ViRGiN

      I’m all for true innovation into productivity and entertainment. Not everything has to be for gaming. Quest Pro did not deliver on the productivity front at all. I’m willing to give Apple benefit of the doubt. And that’s coming from someone who doesn’t own a single Apple thing.

  • Tommy

    D.O.A.

    • S.M.H. ….

      • Tommy

        Lol, I only posted to see if you would reply. I don’t really care either way as I’m sure it will be out of my price range. I wish Apple luck and hope they are successful :)

  • ViRGiN

    have you seen their kickstarter, many people already cancelled their pledges lol. All the money was basically raised in the very first days and stale ever since. Besides that $200k was a fake goal, designed as per kickstarter rule of thumb, the less you ask for, the more you will get. but pimax is pimax and outside of hardcore elitists wanting to play beat saber in not-200-fov-anymore nobody cares.

  • It all sounds great until you count the number of zeros after the 3. $3,000

    We might need a 2nd or 3rd gen device before it reaches a price point for mass adoption.

    • dk

      the rumor was after this first low volume headset they will have a lower price option …a couple of years later …
      but lower for them is $1000-1500

  • Sven Viking

    Not sure a high percentage of humanity will be clamouring at $3,000, but future versions perhaps.

  • ZeePee

    Yeah but you have to remember that this is probably by far the smallest and lightest headset.

    It’s going to leapfrog anything else in the market in form factor.

    It’s going to be mini and super comfortable, and indeed you can take it anywhere and use it anywhere with ease and comfort.

    You pack these glorious specs into a tiny headset, and you have a magical experience.

    The price, given its capability and form factor, does make sense.

    Even at this price, it excites me more than the 12K.

    I bet at this rate, Apple launch this before the 12K lol.

  • dk

    nah I’m betting on ….2160×2160 per eye and same fov as other headsets

  • Chaven Yenketswamy

    Its supports VR and also provides link cable support to to an external VR headset.

  • Jistuce

    Steve IS here to see this. Wozniak’s still truckin’ along.

  • Jistuce

    I mean, that’s true, but right now so do the iGlasses.

  • dk

    there is no way it’s under $2000 or even $2500 and it will be limited production
    the next gen a couple of years later will be a bit more affordable 1500-2000

  • PerpetuallySkeptical

    Realistically how expensive would it have to be for you to not buy one?

  • Woah, that’s an interesting turn. Putting full AR on hold and focusing on a lower cost MR device suggests to me they see MR as an inherently meaningful technology, right? Before now, the MR headset planned for this year was being treated as basically a dev kit for their eventual AR device. Or perhaps good AR is still just that far off.

    • Well it’s that AND Apple engineers have come to the realization that “real AR”
      is incredibly difficult to do in a regular-sized & -looking pair of AIO glasses.

    • BananaBreadBoy

      About time too. The companies/consumers acting like VR/MR headsets are some meaningless roadblock not worth bothering with in favor of super special perfectly light AR glasses need some cold water thrown their way. It’s a difficult field and both are meaningful.

  • ViRGiN

    Apple already progressed far more than entire VR/AR/XR Valve division.

  • Dave

    some of the features coming to the fruit company’s first AR/VR headset

    “Fruit” company, really RoadToVR? You might want to consider changing that to something more appropriate.

    • Sven Viking

      Malus company? They’re not the whole plant though so it doesn’t really fit.

  • PerpetuallySkeptical

    Isn’t this thing going to be conceptually similar to the hololense? An AR/VR hybrid device for business and enterprise use? I can see it being priced similarly.

  • psuedonymous

    The circus continues! “Well, there wasn’t actually any sign of a headset this year, but NEXT year there totally will be!” for the 6th year running. But this time will totally be the year of linux on the desktop actual release date… until it isn’t the the 100% totally real headset is ‘delayed’ once again.

  • BananaBreadBoy

    About bloody time. Even Apple’s infinite coffers can’t magic away the many many difficulties with optical AR glasses. They’ve learned to bite the bullet with VR like everyone else. Who knows, maybe they’ll finally find the meaning in it everyone else here has?

  • nullcodes

    I really hope it’s actually 8K per eye and not merely 4K per eye as reported.