Here comes Apple, ready to charge us an arm and a leg for its own contribution to the VR headset space. Of course, this company has the audacity to charge $3,000 for a mixed reality headset (opens in new tab) which, from the looks of it, won’t be able to handle modern gaming at all.
An exclusive Bloomberg (opens in new tab) article has gone into great detail about how the as-yet unannounced Apple headset actually works (via Digital Trends (opens in new tab)). In it, we’re told the headset will offer two ultra-high resolution screens (which could mean anything), a pass-through mode so you can see your surroundings through “multiple external cameras” (specifically), and something called a “digital crown” so you can switch between VR and AR mode. You mean a button? It’s called a button, Apple.
It also offers only two hours of battery life and a cooling fan, as well as a small unit that attaches to the headset and fits in your pocket. Then we don’t have to play naked (waiting for the inevitable $400 Apple Nudity Strapping accessory -Ed).
Of course, what people are most excited about is the hand and eye tracking capability which is sure to appeal to a VR headset like this. With this, we should see some advanced gesture recognition, with users pinching their thumbs and making others complete wheel looking hand movements to control the headset just like super cool sci-fi characters they always wanted to be.
In addition, Apple’s mixed reality headset supports what Bloomberg calls “realistic avatars.” Whether that means photorealistic or Mass effect Andromeda (opens in new tab) realistic is unclear. What we do know is that its application will be very limited.
If you expect to pay $3,000 and move to Apple’s version of the Metaverse, you’ll be disappointed to learn that to save on processing power, the headset only allows you to display a realistic avatar in one-on-one meetings. Otherwise, you’ll be rendered as the nightmare-inducing Memoji character the company has you design to be welcomed into Apple’s cult.
All this will run on an M2 chip variation, paired with something called a Reality Processor, which is what Apple actually calls its dedicated graphics chip for the project.
Keep in mind these are still rumors and much of this is still subject to change. We might even see a feature pop up that actually makes it worth $3,000, though we’re not holding our breath. Oh, but Apple is working on a cheaper version for around $1,500, which should be out sometime between 2024 and 2025.
From where we stand now, the device doesn’t seem to offer anything more than the $399 Quest 2 has already achieved with handheld tracking and pass-through mode. And it’s unlikely to add much to the still-struggling VR gaming space. Sure, Apple will probably do it with some style, but the substance… I’m not convinced.
In reality, Sony’s PSVR2 is more likely to make a tangible, real-world impact on the virtual reality ecosystem. If that goes well, more game developers will take VR seriously, and we could see more titles translate into more high-end PC VR experiences.
But if Apple does it right… Apple does it right and that’s about it.
Either way, we should see production of Apple’s mixed-reality headset begin sometime in February, with an initial US launch imminent this year.