Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference kicks off today in Cupertino and anticipations are high for a new virtual reality headset from the company.
WWDC is typically where Apple shows off new software features coming to the iPhone, iPad and Mac computers, but this year all signs point to new hardware.
“I think having a third major player in the market could really propel VR to the next level,” said Nicholas Sutrich, who covers VR for Android Central.
If the rumors are true, and there’s been a lot of them, Apple could be setting the stage for a big hardware announcement in mixed reality headsets.
“I think we primarily need a company to come in and convince people they actually want to wear these things,” said Sutrich.
Apple has invited an interesting mix of developers, tech journalists, and those in the VR community to attend.
Their upcoming headset is expected to handle both AR and VR.
“VR is a way to replace reality with a virtual one, so it puts you IN the game,” explained Sutrich.
“AR is actually very different, it’s called augmented reality, and that’s a way to place virtual objects into the real world,” said Sutrich.
Apple has been doing AR for a very long time. In fact, I got to play an AR game the company was demoing all the way back in 2019.
Apple’s combination of hardware, software and marketing could move this emerging technology mainstream.
“I think this move is super important and I’m really looking forward to what they do,” said Sutrich.
It’s been a bumpy road for VR and AR.
Google was early to the game with an AR headset called Glass. It was hyped but expensive and never truly delivered on its promise of easy access to information in your sightline.
Microsoft’s AR headset called HoloLens ended up pivoting from consumers to business applications.
Two recent headsets have done well.
Meta’s Quest, formerly the Oculus, has now sold more than 20 million units. Facebook recently made a surprise announcement about the Meta Quest 3, which will launch in the fall for $500. It will have a better display and performance, but the specs still aren’t up to what we’re expecting from Apple.
Sony says it’s gaming-focused PlayStation VR 2 is already selling better than the last.
Google is working with Samsing to create what’s called an extended reality headset, which combines several aspects of AR and VR and even mixed reality.
This technology is going to eventually end up on our faces, it’s just a question of when and what it will look like.
Apple’s headset is expected to be sleek, with a higher resolution display and more capabilities.
I recently got a sneak peek at the micro 4K display technology that’s expected to power Apple’s headset. A company named BOE was showing off their 1.3-inch 4K MicroOLED display, and it was incredibly clear for being so tiny. You can get an idea of just how immersive it is here.
The big question mark is the price. Apple’s headset is expected to cost in the thousands of dollars. That’s a lot for unproven technology, especially a first generation of it.
But Apple has the stores to be able to demo this new tech, and the means to give it a long runway to develop into their next big product category.
Also, people go into Apple stores and drop thousands of dollars on phones, computers, tablets and more daily.
“It’s going to be a superior product to what is currently on the market in terms of AR and VR, but it really depends on the app ecosystem, how this gets priced long term, how they position it and if there’s really a killer app for this to take off,” said Mark Gurman, Bloomberg Tech Reporter on the Rich on Tech Radio Show.
I’ll be at Apple’s WWDC, which kicks off at 10 AM Pacific time. You can stream the event online or follow me on Twitter for the biggest updates as they’re announced.