On Monday, June 5, during the highly anticipated WWDC conference at Apple Park in Cupertino, Apple is expected to introduce a brand-new product category: the Reality Pro. This innovative gadget, unlike anything Apple has launched before, is likely to be powered by a new operating system called xrOS.
While nothing has been officially confirmed, numerous reports suggest that Apple will unveil the headset at WWDC. To add weight to these speculations, Apple has sent invites to media outlets specializing in virtual and augmented reality, indicating that something along those lines is indeed on the horizon.
So, what do we know about Apple’s inaugural mixed reality headset? While it’s important to bear in mind that all the information currently available is based on hearsay and rumors, we have gathered some intriguing details about the device.
Regarding its name, most sources agree that the most probable choice will be Reality Pro, although Apple has also trademarked other related names, such as “Reality One” and “Reality Processor.”
According to reports, the Reality Pro will deviate from Apple’s typical product launches in several ways. Firstly, it is expected to carry a hefty price tag of around $3,000 and will primarily target developers. Additionally, it might not possess the sleekness associated with Apple’s traditional offerings, as it will need to be tethered to an external battery via a cable.
While the need for an external battery pack may seem less than ideal, it could result in a more comfortable and lightweight headset compared to competitors like Meta’s Quest headsets. Apple plans to utilize premium materials like aluminum, glass, and carbon fiber to achieve a lighter headset. It will likely feature a rubbery band at the back that rests on the user’s head. However, it’s worth noting that Apple’s final designs often differ from initial rumors and reports, so take these details with a grain of salt.
One design element that should ring a bell for Apple Watch users is the inclusion of a digital crown on the headset. This crown will serve as the primary tool for switching between virtual reality and augmented reality experiences. With a simple turn of this small knob on the side of the device, users will have the power to immerse themselves in their chosen reality and tune out their surroundings.
As for the specifications, the Reality Pro will likely be equipped with one or possibly two M2-level chips. It is rumored to feature Sony-made 4K OLED displays and an array of cameras, both inside and outside the headset, for eye movement and hand gesture tracking. There are also reports suggesting the integration of an iris scanner for secure identification during logins and payments.
The inclusion of these powerful chips will make the headset immensely robust, surpassing the processing power of existing devices. Apple’s aim is to ensure a smooth overall experience, which could also enable the headset to run visually impressive games.
The concept of mixed reality, which lies between virtual reality and augmented reality, plays a key role in Apple’s approach. Rather than isolating users from the real world, the headset’s cameras will allow wearers to perceive their surroundings. With high-resolution cameras, powerful chips, and a reported new streaming codec developed by Apple, users can expect a nearly lag-free and highly realistic representation of their environment. Apple’s technology will seamlessly blend virtual objects with the real world, introducing new types of experiences that were previously unavailable on Apple devices.
Long battery life is essential for portable devices. Reports suggest that the Reality Pro will offer a two-hour battery life, which might seem relatively low compared to other Apple products. However, this aligns with the battery performance of Meta’s Quest 2 headset.
Moving on to the accompanying xrOS, sources indicate that it will bear a resemblance to Apple’s existing operating systems while catering to a unique environment. xrOS will combine eye movement tracking with hand gestures to facilitate various tasks. It is also expected to have its own App Store and the ability to run iPhone and iPad apps.
One intriguing prediction suggests that users will be able to create animated objects in virtual reality simply by conversing with Siri.
At launch, the Reality Pro is likely to come with a decent selection of apps, including familiar ones like Safari, Maps, Apple Music, and FaceTime. Virtual video chats are expected to be a prominent feature. Additionally, new apps will be introduced to provide a diverse range of experiences. According to a Bloomberg report, there will be something for everyone, including games, a sports-watching portal, a feature that allows the headset to function as an external “monitor” for a Mac, collaboration tools, a unique fitness experience, and more.
While the headset can be connected to an iPhone or Mac, it is designed to function as a standalone device and does not require constant connectivity.
Rumors suggest that the Reality Pro is just the beginning of Apple’s AR/VR/MR product lineup. However, other devices in this category are not expected to be launched in the near future. Some reports speculate that the next product could arrive in 2024 or 2025, with a price closer to that of an iPhone.
Exciting developments await, and WWDC will likely shed more light on Apple’s entry into the world of mixed reality and its ambitious plans to revolutionize user experiences.