Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman has released a comprehensive report detailing Apple’s VR/AR headset. Let’s start with the name – it’s going to 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 project and the work of its technology development group of more than 1,000 people in 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 bet on its success.
Reality Pro is 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 user’s eyes. It will have speakers on the sides and a headband to secure it on a user’s head. The Reality Pro will reportedly use a modified version of Apple’s M2 processor and have a battery pack connected to the headset via cable that the wearer will keep in their 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 competing products (like Meta’s Quest Pro) in a few key ways – it will have face and eye tracking, combine VR (indoor virtual environment) with AR (augmented real world), have its own interface like the iPhone or iPad , and serve as a video consumption device (for watching movies or as an external display for a Mac).
Reality Pro will have multiple external cameras to track your hands and sensors inside to keep track of a user’s eyes. This means the headset knows where you’re looking and lets you interact with the iPhone-like 3D interface (called xrOS internally) by pinching your thumb and index finger. This means that Apple’s Reality Pro will not require physical hand controllers like other headsets to function.
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 brand new environment will disappear and be 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 reproduce a person’s face and entire body in a virtual environment. That way, two people can have a conversation in VR that feels closer to reality than Meta’s cartoonish rendering. However, due to the high demands on processing power when holding a FaceTime call with more than two people, Reality Pro will however show all users as Memoji.
Users will be able to use Reality Pro as an external display for a Mac. In this mode, users will see the screen 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 cinema screen in a fully simulated environment such as space or a desert. But Reality Pro requires you to wear AirPods to get Spatial Audio.
Apple is said to be preparing a retail environment where users can try out Reality Pro in their Apple Stores. Gurman says Apple is taking a long-term approach to Reality Pro and doesn’t expect a profit from the first-generation product, even at its high price.