05 February 2021
Apple is long rumored to be working on its entry into the virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) space through its own hardware offerings. It seems like at least the VR part of the development is getting closer to an official release. The latest report from Bloomberg talks about Apple's first VR headset as well as future plans for AR glasses.
The report starts off by describing the VR headset as a precursor for AR-related hardware which will be a more "ambitious" offering. It is said to cost a lot more than the competition and will be a niche product. It means Apple will not be targeting a mass audience and will primarily be focusing on developers and early adopters. This is likely to be because of various development hurdles the team had to go through so far. It has resulted in limited unit productions and eventually conservative sales expectations.
The VR headset will be powered by powerful processors and high-resolution display panels. It is currently in a late prototype stage and is internally referred to as N301. The interesting bit of information is that some of the processors tested for the headset have been found to be even more powerful than the M1 processor that debuted in the 2020 MacBook Air and Pro lineup. It even said to have a fan that is usually avoided by companies in such products.
It is reported to be capable of delivering an "all-encompassing 3-D digital environment for gaming, watching video and communicating". It will be competing with offerings of HTC, Oculus, and Sony's PlayStation VR but cost a lot more. Since it will be expensive and a niche product, there is a possibility that Apple may sell just one unit per day per retail store. This would lead to only 180,000 units getting sold each year.
Apple is said to be eying a 2022 release for the VR headset but nothing is set in stone yet. It means the release can get delayed and even the product could get scrapped altogether. As for the AR Glasses, the internal codename is N421 but is still in the very early stages of development. Even though some have speculated a 2023 release, some insiders believe that the product is years away from getting announced.