Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman has issued an extensive report, detailing Apple’s VR/AR headset. Let’s start off with the name – it will be called Apple Reality Pro, and it could be announced at WWDC and launched in the US for $3,000 later this year.
Apple aims to culminate a seven-year-long project and the work of its more than 1,000-person Technology Development Group in the Reality Pro. The project is the first new category for Apple since it launched the Apple Watch in 2015 and the company is taking a big financial gamble on its success.
Reality Pro will be made of aluminum, glass and cushions. Gurman calls it reminiscent of Apple’s AirPods Max. It will have a curved screen on the front that can show the wearer’s eyes. It will have speakers on the sides and a headband to secure it on a user’s head. Reality Pro will reportedly use a modified version of Apple’s M2 processor and have a battery pack that’s connected to the headset via cable, that the wearer will carry in his pocket. The battery is reportedly the size of two iPhone 14 Pro Max’ batteries stacked together and will last up to 2 hours.
The headset will differ from rival products (like Meta’s Quest Pro) in a few key ways – it will have face and eye tracking, combine VR (inner virtual environment) with AR (augmented real world), have its own interface like the iPhone or iPad, and serve as a video consumption device (to watch movies or as an external screen for a Mac).
The Reality Pro will have several external cameras to track your hands, and sensors inside to keep track of a user’s eyes. This means the headset will know where you’re looking and allow you to interact with the iPhone-like 3D interface (internally called xrOS) by pinching with your thumb and index finger. This means that Apple’s Reality Pro will not require physical hand controllers like other headsets to work.
The Reality Pro will have a Digital Crown, like the Apple Watch – that will switch between VR and AR. Gurman says that when switching from VR to AR, the fully-emersed environment will fade back and will become surrounded by the user’s real environment. Gurman reports that Apple expects this to be a highlight of Reality Pro.
Next up is FaceTime. Reality Pro will be able to realistically render a person’s face and full body in a virtual environment. That way two people can have a conversation in VR that feels closer to reality than Meta’s cartoonish rendition. However, due to the sheer processing power requirements, when holding a FaceTime call with more than two people, Reality Pro will display all users as Memoji.
Users will be able to use Reality Pro as an external monitor for a Mac. In this mode, users will see the display in Virtual Reality but still use their computer’s touchpad or mouse, and physical keyboard.
Reality Pro will be able to simulate watching a movie on a giant theater screen in a completely simulated environment like in space or a desert. But Reality Pro will require you to wear AirPods in order to get Spatial Audio.
Apple is said to be ready an in-store environment for users to try Reality Pro in its Apple Stores. Gurman says Apple is taking a long-term approach to Reality Pro and doesn’t expect a profit from the first-gen product, even at its high price tag.