New leaked details about Apple’s upcoming VR headset show the company is learning from mistakes made by makers of rival devices. Most notably, it’s reportedly creating a headset — possibly called “Reality Pro” — that will offer more realistic avatars, and won’t require the user to hold controllers in their hands.
Here are five ways Apple’s not making the same errors as Meta and other companies.
Apple’s VR headset will be different
As it has a history of doing, Apple will try to produce a better AR/VR headset that makes other companies’ efforts look instantly inferior and outdated. By pairing premium hardware with the highest quality software, Apple will attempt to upstage the Meta Quest Pro and other VR headsets.
Here’s how Apple reportedly plans to pull that off.
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-looking 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. The long-rumored Apple headset also will come with familiar applications, including Safari, Messages, Mail, Photos, etc. Similarly, an App Store will allow users to add third-party software.
Few devices seem as familiar to the masses as the iPhone and iPad. And Meta doesn’t even make a phone or tablet, so it can’t present new users with something they’ve used before.
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. That’s very different from virtual reality, which completely replaces the real world. AR potentially could prove far more useful. And people wearing the Apple headset reportedly will switch between AR and VR easily with a Digital 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 supposedly will require a processor as powerful as the Apple M2 MacBook chip, and it will include multiple displays and many sensors. All that cutting-edge tech will require a significant power source.
News that the upcoming AR/VR headset will use a separate, waist-mounted battery pack surfaced in early January. These will be swappable, since the device can only run for two hours on a single charge.
Apple apparently learned from a mistake made by manufacturers of early VR headsets, which required lengthy recharge cycles after use. Moving the battery off the user’s head (and into a back pocket) might make the headset more comfortable to wear.
Apple preps VR/AR headset for multiple uses
It’s not clear yet what the “killer app” for virtual reality will be. VR is 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.
The launch of Apple Reality Pro has been moved back many times. It’s supposedly scheduled to be unveiled in spring 2023.
If you want one, you better start saving up, because the price reportedly will be high. Leaks indicate the headset could cost 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.