5 ways Apple 'Reality Pro' VR headset will beat Meta's | Cult of Mac

5 ways Apple ‘Reality Pro’ VR headset will beat Meta’s

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Don’t expect the Apple VR headset to be the first step in re-creating Ready Player One by delivering a full metaverse.
The hardware for Apple's VR/AR headset might be better than science fiction.
Photo: Warner Bros. Entertainment

New leaked details of the Reality Pro VR headset show Apple is learning from mistakes made by makers of rival devices. Most notably, it’s reportedly creating a headset that will offer more realistic avatars, and won’t require the user to hold controllers in their hands.

Here are 5 ways it’s not making the same errors as Meta and other companies.

1. Apple avatars won’t be cartoons

We’ve known for months that Apple’s VR headset will be packed with advanced sensors, and Bloomberg reports that these will be used to “realistically render a user’s face and full body in virtual reality.”

FaceTime will be a focus of the device, and two users each wearing a Reality Pro headset can appear as realistic people in the same virtual space for a meeting.

VR meeting rooms from rivals including Meta and Microsoft have been criticized because virtual attendees are cartoon characters without legs.

2. You won’t have to learn a new user interface

Apparently, if you’ve used an iPhone out iPad, you already know basically how to use Reality Pro. “The headset’s operating system, internally called xrOS, will have many of the same features as an iPhone and iPad but in a 3D environment,” reports Bloomberg. It will also include familiar applications, including Safari, Messages, Mail, Photos, etc. And an App Store for adding third-party software.

Meta doesn’t make a phone or tablet so it can’t present new users with something familiar.

3. No hand controls will be needed

The many sensors built into Apple’s upcoming VR headset will enable it to tell what the wearer is doing with their hands. Combine those with sensors watching the user’s eyes, and controlling Reality Pro will be simple.
It will detect that the wearer is looking at an on-screen menu and the user need only “pinch their thumb and index finger together to activate the task,” according to Bloomberg.

Rival virtual reality devices require the user to hold two controllers so the computer knows where the hands are located.

4. Apple headset is both VR and AR

Apple’s first headset will offer both virtual reality and augmented reality. AR overlays computer-generated images or text onto the real world. It’s different from virtual reality, which completely replaces the real world. The use will switch between AR and VR with a Digial Crown similar to the one on an Apple Watch.

Rivals have generally concentrated on VR, but Apple supposedly expects AR to be a highlight of its offering.

5. Cutting-edge performance will require replaceable batteries

Reality Pro’s advanced feature set will supposedly require a processor as powerful as the Apple M2 MacBook chip, and it will include multiple displays and many sensors. This all will require a significant source of power.

News that the upcoming AR/VR headset will use a separate, waist-mounted battery pack surfaced in early January. These will be swappable as the device can only run for two hours on a single charge.

This is a mistake Apple learned from early VR headsets that required lengthy recharge cycles after use. And moving the battery off the user’s head might make the more comfortable to wear.

Apple preparing VR/AR headset for multiple uses

It’s not clear yet what the “killer app” for virtual reality will be. It’s frequently used for gaming now, and Apple is keeping that in mind as one option for users of its upcoming headset. There are others, of course.

“Apple is planning for the headset to have a dedicated video-watching feature that can make viewers feel like they’re seeing a movie on a giant screen in another environment, such as a desert or outer space,” reports Bloomberg.

There’s also virtual FaceTime too, as has already been mentioned.

Coming soon?

The launch of Apple Reality Pro has been moved back many times. It’s supposedly scheduled to be unveiled in spring 2023.

The price will be high. Leaks indicate it will be as much as $3,000. But Apple supposedly sees it as a testbed for future products, including a cheaper version coming in 2024 or early 2025.