Apple’s Reality Pro: What we know ahead of WWDC 2023Reading Time: 4 minutes
Apple is going virtual this year.
This is a massive moment for Apple.
On Monday, June 5, at the WWDC conference in Apple Park, Cupertino, the company is likely to unveil an entirely new product category, a gadget very unlike anything Apple has launched before.
Its (probable) name? Reality Pro, and it will probably be powered by a new operating system called xrOS.
Nothing is official at this point, but multiple reports point to Apple launching the headset at WWDC. Yes, we’ve heard similar rumors last year, but this time around Apple has sent out invites to outlets that focus specifically on virtual and augmented reality, which is a pretty good confirmation that something of the sort is coming.
So what do we know about Apple’s first-ever mixed reality headset? Quite a bit, actually, if you take into consideration the caveat that it’s all hearsay at this point, and rumors aren’t always right when it comes to upcoming Apple products.
Apple mixed-reality headset name, price, and design
First, the name. Most sources agree that the most likely name for the upcoming product is Reality Pro, although Apple has trademarked a couple of other names in the same vein, including ‘Reality One’ and ‘Reality Processor.’
From what we’ve heard, the Reality Pro going to be very different from Apple’s typical product launches. First, it will be expensive (think $3,000) and primarily aimed at developers. And reports say it won’t be as sleek as we’ve used to from Apple products; it will have to tether to an external battery via a cable.
That external battery pack, while certainly not ideal, might make Apple’s headset itself far more comfortable and lightweight than, say, Meta’s Quest headsets. Apple will use fancy materials, including aluminum, glass, and even carbon fiber, to keep the headset light, and there will be a rubbery band on the back that you put over your head. Apple’s designs often end up different than rumors and reports say, so take all of this with a pinch of salt.
One design element should be familiar to Apple Watch users: The headset will reportedly have a digital crown which will primarily be used to switch between virtual reality and augmented reality. Yes, you should be able to shut down the people around you with a simple turn of a small knob on the device’s side.
Apple Reality Pro headset specs prediction
The new headset will probably be powered by one or even two M2-level chips and feature Sony-made 4K OLED displays, and more than a dozen cameras (both inside and outside) for eye movement and hand gesture tracking. There are also reports that Apple will integrate an iris scanner as a way of secure identification for logging in and payments.
Those two chips will make the headset immensely powerful, far beefier in terms of processing power than anything else out there today. Apple will likely use all that processing power to make the entire experience run smoothly, though it could also mean the headset will be able to run some fancy-looking games.
A note about mixed reality, which is somewhere in between virtual reality and augmented reality. The idea here is not to have a headset on your head that shuts you out of the outside world; instead, the cameras on the headset will be used to give the wearer the ability to see their surroundings. And with high-res cameras, powerful chips and reportedly a new streaming codec, developed by Apple, the wearer should be able to have a nearly lag-free and very faithful representation of what’s happening around them. Of course, it doesn’t stop there; Apple will be able to seamlessly mix virtual objects with the real world, allowing for new types of experiences previously unavailable on Apple devices.
The Reality Pro headset will reportedly have a two-hour battery life, which sounds quite low compared to, well, any other Apple gadget out there. It is, however, in line with what Meta’s Quest 2 headset offers.
What to know about xrOS
As for the accompanying xrOS, reports say that it will have the same feel as Apple’s other operating systems, but in a vastly different setting: One in which it combines tracking your eye movements with hand gestures to perform various tasks. It should also have its own App Store, and the ability to run iPhone and iPad apps.
One of the weirder predictions about the headset is that users will be able to create animated objects in virtual reality by simply speaking to Siri.
It’s fairly certain that the Reality Pro will launch with a decent range of apps, including apps you already know such as Safari, Maps, Apple Music, and FaceTime (virtual video chats will likely be an important selling point), as well as new apps. A Bloomberg report says there will be something for everyone in there, including games, a portal for watching sports, a way to use the headset as an external ‘monitor’ for a Mac, collaboration tools, a new fitness experience, and more.
You will be able to connect the headset to your iPhone or Mac, but it won’t be necessary for operation; the Reality Pro should be a completely standalone device.
More to come?
By the way, rumors say that this is merely the first in line of several AR/VR/MR products Apple is working on, but the others aren’t very close to launch right now. Some reports claim that the second one might come in 2024 or 2025, with a price tag closer to the iPhone.
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