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Apple’s highly anticipated mixed-reality headset is one of the company’s most ambitious projects yet. With the first release in the lineup expected to debut in 2023, rumors abound about its features and capabilities. Recent reports suggest that the headset may not require an iPhone to work, making it more of a standalone device than previously thought.
According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, who writes the “Power On” newsletter, the headset will “probably not require” an iPhone for setup or actual use. Sources say that the latest versions of the headset being tested can be set up without needing an iPhone. Instead, the headset can download a user’s content and iCloud data directly.
Although the headset can work independently, users will still be able to transfer data from their iPhone or iPad to the device in a similar way to setting up new hardware. The headset will rely on eye and hand tracking for interaction, including in-air typing. However, the technology is still in the testing phase and has been described as “finicky“. Users may have to rely on their iPhone’s keyboard for text entry initially, but Gurman expects that software updates will be deployed to improve the feature rapidly.
The headset’s independent hardware capabilities are highly plausible, given that Meta’s Quest 2 already functions as a standalone device. However, Meta’s device also relies on a companion app for interaction. Apple’s headset will not require any such app and will offer users a fully independent experience.
Gurman now believes that the headset, tentatively called Reality Pro, will debut at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in 2023. Shipping will begin by the end of the year. Beyond the initial release, Gurman writes that Apple is already planning follow-up models. A cheaper version called Reality One is expected to arrive by the end of 2024 or early 2025. This model will feature a lower-end display and processor and will be significantly cheaper than the initial $3,000 model.
A second-generation Reality Pro is also in development and is expected to offer considerably more performance than the first-gen model. An apparent complaint is that the current model, which is equipped with an M2 processor, isn’t powerful enough to support more than two realistic VR representations of participants at a time.
Apple’s mixed-reality headset is shaping up to be a significant leap forward for the company. With its standalone capabilities and eye and hand-tracking technology, it promises to deliver an immersive experience for users. As the headset gets closer to launch, we can expect to learn more about its features and capabilities.