Apple's designers want to delay its mixed-reality headset
But CEO Tim Cook is going ahead with the launch despite designers' concerns
Apple’s upcoming and much-anticipated mixed-reality headset will reportedly launch later this year against the wishes of its design team, who want to extend development for a more impressive debut.
The headset has been in the public eye for a while, but a new report from the Financial Times suggests discussions over when it should release have been raging within Apple since the project began in early 2016.
➡️ The Shortcut Skinny: Apple AR/VR headset
👩🔬 Apple is launching its mixed-reality headset against its designers’ wishes
⚙ The company’s top designers want to continue iterating on the device
📆 It’s expected to release this June as the Reality Pro
💸 Users might be put off by the prohibitively high price
“They have huge pressure to ship” the headset, a former Apple engineer who worked on the VR/AR device told the FT. “They have been postponing the launch each year for the past [few] years.”
Apple’s operations team had initially wanted to ship a pared-down version of the device that would allow users to watch 3D videos, assist in workouts and provide virtual reality social spaces like Meta’s Horizon Worlds, although reportedly one with more realistic avatars.
The design team, however, pushed to extend development until it was technically possible to produce a more lightweight device that better matched their vision. With the headset now expected to debut this June, Apple CEO Tim Cook has overruled the concerns of the company’s top designers, leaving it to launch a bulkier device.
Rumors suggest the mixed-reality headset – expected to be called Reality Pro – will still sport an impressive array of hardware features. External cameras will track the movement of users’ hands and fingers to let them navigate apps and make on-screen selections without using external controllers, and internal cameras will support eye-tracking much like the PSVR 2 specs do.
A VR version of FaceTime will let two users meet up in a virtual meeting room, realistically rendering their full bodies as avatars, and while is Apple expected to launch its own version of the metaverse, those high-fidelity avatars will only be available in one-on-one FaceTime chats.
Although Apple hired more game devs to work on its mixed-reality headset last year, don’t expect the Reality Pro to serve as a gaming device. It sounds as if it will be marketed for both commercial and consumer uses, making it closer to the Meta Quest Pro than the PSVR 2 or the upcoming Meta Quest 3.
That broad functionality is met with a high price point. The Reality Pro is expected to cost around $3,000 – triple the price of the Meta Quest Pro following its recent price cut, and triple that of HTC’s new mixed-reality headset.
The FT reports Apple is expecting to only sell around one million units of the headset in its first year. That’s low in comparison to the sales of Apple's other flagship products like the iPhone and Apple Watch, the former of which dominated the global top 10 best-selling smartphones of 2022. But the headset will have to be truly impressive to get even the most die-hard Apple fans to shell out three grand. The extortionate price of VR tech has made it prohibitive to many users. Apple will be likely hoping its brand can do much of the heavy lifting.
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