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Apple may announce a mixed-reality headset in the 'next several months'

12 min read
  • Apple aims to announce its mixed reality headset with in-person event sometime in the “next several months,” according to new reports.
  • It could also be a 'pre-announcement,' with the actual release of the product being in late 2021 or early 2022.
  • The product has been rumored to debut with a ton of high-end specs and cost as much as $3,000.

A new report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman (reliability: 84.36%) states that Apple is planning to announce its rumored mixed-reality AR/VR headset sometime in the “next several months”.

The statements were published in a newsletter on Wednesday. The newsletter talked about the possibility of future WWDC event being held in an in-person format, with Gurman stating that Apple intents to announce a mixed-reality headset at such an in-person event.

Sometime in the next several months, the company is poised to announce a mixed reality headset, its first major new device since 2015. If possible, Apple won’t want to make such a critical announcement at an online event. It wants employees, the media, its partners and developers in the room.

The rumors first started to heat up back in January 2021, when Bloomberg first reported that the company’s AR/VR headset will be a high-end, pricey and niche precursor to the rumored Apple Glasses. Hence, it is expected to sell in low volumes — just one headset per day at its retail stores, thereby accounting to a total of 180,000 units a year at its 500 stores. Apple’s first AR/VR headset could potentially see a release sometime in 2022. With that being said, this report from Gurman makes it believable that what may be announced in “next several months” could be a pre-announcement of the headset — meant solely to give developers time to explore and prepare for what’s coming.

Apple made a similar move by announcing its transition of Macs to Apple Silicon back at WWDC20 in June. This gave developers time to prepare their apps before the first Apple Silicon Macs were released several months later. Something similar could be expected with Apple’s AR/VR headset as well, according to Gurman. With WWDC21 just around the corner, it's plausible that the company could use the event as a pre-announcement to give developers more time to prepare for its public release.

As for the product itself, it was reported earlier back in February that the AR/VR headset would be released with a whopping price tag of $3,000, and would consist of dual 8K displays, advanced eye-tracking system and more than a dozen camera modules for tracking hand movements. Moreover, it was revealed in a patent in late February that the headset could potentially be equipped with Geometric Phase Lenses to merge the real world with virtual content generated from the display. Additionally, a recent report also stated that the upcoming Apple headset could be equipped with an iris recognition system.

Although it’s still unclear as to what features Apple’s first AR/VR headset could debut with, it's becoming clear that it will be a direct competitor to others products like Facebook’s Oculus Rift and the Microsoft’s HoloLens. Interestingly, this AR/VR headset will be Apple’s first major new product since Apple Watch, which was released back in 2015. Apple is also reported to be working on a more consumer-focused, price-friendly product, infamously being called ‘Apple Glasses.’ This product, according to several reports and rumors, is believed to be release somewhere in 2025. A pair of augmented reality contact lenses could also arrive by 2030, according to Ming-Chi Kuo (reliability: 80.95%).

Apple last held an in-person event in September 2019. Ever since then, all the events have been held in an all-online format due to the global pandemic. However, according to Gurman, it is believed that this will be Apple’s last all-online WWDC and the in-person media events will begin by next year. The report states that the company is working faster to get its employees back working in the office by encouraging them to get vaccinated with an offer for paid time off. It even states that some engineers are already working from Apple's headquarters on certain days and during certain times.

Apple is working faster than most tech companies to get its key engineering staff back in the office. Working from home has some benefits, but a car, the next iPhone, future smart speakers and new earbuds can’t be designed, engineered and tested from a kitchen table.

Already, some engineers are working from the company’s headquarters during certain times and on particular days. Apple is hoping for a larger return as early as June. It’s also encouraging employees to get vaccinated, offering paid time off for their shot appointment as well as for any side effects.

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