Apple’s mixed-reality headset is reportedly nearing its debut

An artist’s  concept of Apple’s first VR headset (Antonio De Rosa)
An artist’s concept of Apple’s first VR headset (Antonio De Rosa)

It’s already been a big year for virtual reality with new headsets from Meta and HTC, but the biggest announcement of them all could be around the corner.

Apple is reportedly set to introduce its mixed-reality device this spring in the lead-up to its annual worldwide developers’ conference (WWDC) event in June, according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. It plans to ship the headset in the autumn.

The mixed-reality glasses will offer both augmented reality, which places virtual graphics on the real world, and VR that puts you in a completely virtual environment.

To power such immersive experiences, Apple is expected to leverage the same M2 processor as used in its latest MacBooks. The headset will feature dual 4K OLED microdisplays paired with 120-degree field-of-view lenses, with more than a dozen cameras to track facial, eye, hand and leg movements.

The mixed-reality part will likely require what is known as a high-definition “passthrough” camera. This allows the wearer to see gaming environments and characters overlaid on top of their real-world surroundings. Imagine having Sonic the Hedgehog racing around your living room, and you get the idea.

Apple has reportedly given prototype hardware to a handful of high-profile third-party developers so they can sample its new operating system, known as xrOS. It has a lot of catching up to do with the competition as Meta’s Quest headsets already offer more than 300 apps, including fitness ones, productivity software, and games.

The latest timeline aligns with previous reports on the long-gestating headset, which has been in development for years. Reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo recently claimed that Apple planned to start producing the headset in March.

There’s not yet official word on pricing, but you can expect it to be a high-end product based on Apple’s premium brand. Other VR devices on the market include Meta’s £400 Quest 2 and £1,500 Meta Quest Pro, the £689 Valve Index, and the £379 Pico 4. HTC also recently unveiled a £1,299 mixed-reality headset that will ship in February.

According to Kuo, Apple’s glasses could top the lot, with a possible price tag of more than $2,000 (£1,754) — putting it out of reach of most consumers.

Still, VR enthusiasts have another high-profile gadget to look forward to. Plus, if anyone can convince the general public to give VR a try, you’d think it would be Apple. Especially if the device plays nice with its other products and services, such as AirPods and Apple Fitness+.