For years Apple has been rumored to be working on a headset that will combine augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) – sometimes called mixed reality (MR) – and the latest prediction we have about the device is that it will be launched later this year .
Veteran industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who usually knows what he’s talking about when it comes to Apple, has tweeted (opens in new tab) (about 9to5Mac (opens in new tab)) that the AR/VR headset is behind schedule due to certain hardware testing and the availability of software development tools.
That means, Kuo says, the shipping window can be pushed back from Q2 2023 to Q3: July, August, or September. Previous leaks, including one from Kuo, had hinted at the device’s arrival in the first half of this year.
timing is everything
However, there’s still a chance that Apple will announce the device ahead of schedule, well before it actually goes on sale. Kuo says there could be a big reveal “based on the current development process” at an event in March or at the Worldwide Developers Conference that Apple holds each June.
Getting app developers on board with the new hardware will be crucial – there won’t be many takers for an expensive AR/VR headset if there’s nothing special to actually use it for.
Previous leaks indicate that Apple could call the operating system on the new device RealityOS, although this is by no means certain. After so many years of rumors and speculation, it will be fascinating to see what Apple has actually accomplished when the headset finally gets its big reveal.
Analysis: an important step for Apple
It can be easy to take Apple’s massive manufacturing operation for granted: It produces millions of iPhones, iPads, Macs, and other hardware every month, and gets it all done (by and large) without serious problems.
When it comes to moving into a different product category like an AR/VR headset (or car), the challenge is a bit greater. Parts and processes are new, and that’s before we get to the question of whether or not anyone will actually buy it.
The Apple Watch was the last time Apple introduced something entirely new, rather than an update to an existing product. After a bit of a rocky start, consumers finally embraced the wearable and it’s now a fixture in Apple’s hardware lineup.
As with the smartwatch, the AR/VR headset will be something of a shot in the blue for Apple. It’s not a gadget category with a slew of existing devices that gives Apple more opportunities to set the standards for our mixed reality future.
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