Surprise! Apple might unveil mixed-reality headset in 2021

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This Apple VR headset concept
The Apple VR headset might jump from concept to reality sooner than expected.
Concept: Antonio De Rosa

Apple supposedly will announce its first virtual reality/augmented reality headset “in the next several months,” according to a very reliable source. It could be as quickly as WWDC 2021.  That’s well before other predictions.

While the iPhone-maker hasn’t committed to any such device, its VR headset has been the subject of many leaks. But no one can agree on when it’ll reach customers. Most recent reports have pointed to some point in 2022, though.

Apple VR headset might be unveiled in late 2021

On Wednesday, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman updated his prediction about Apple’s plans. “Sometime in the next several months, the company is poised to announce a mixed reality headset, its first major new device since 2015,” he said.

That would seem to imply the device will be unveiled at the next WWDC developers conference, which Apple just announced will start June 7. But Gurman says Apple would prefer to not reveal this VR headset at an all-virtual conference. “If possible, Apple won’t want to make such a critical announcement at an online event,” he said. “It wants employees, the media, its partners and developers in the room.”

Note that Gurman doesn’t say Apple will release the mixed reality headset this year — just reveal it. When entering new product categories, the company has a habit of pre-announcing its initial offerings months before the launch. For example, Apple Watch was unveiled September 2014 and released April 2015.

The Bloomberg writer has an 89.1% accuracy ranking on AppleTrack, which rates tipsters on how well they predict Apple’s future moves. That makes him among the most accurate.

A tale of two Apple devices

A mixed reality headset would combine computer-generated images with reality as a way to present additional information. Previous leaks say Apple’s version will offer very advanced features and sell for around $1000, a price in-line with rival VR headsets already on the market. Recent predictions point to a release in early 2022.

The product is intended for in-home use. But that’s not the end of the story. Apple is also allegedy working on a pair of lightweight augmented reality glasses for use on the go. Predictions on when these will debut are all over the calendar, from later this year all the way to 2025.