Apple is expected to announce its first-generation mixed-reality headset with combined augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) at WWDC 2023 and launch it later this year.
The upcoming mixed reality headset is going to be Apple’s new product category after the launch of the Apple Watch in 2015. Therefore, the company aims to offer unique features on its new device which will not only set it apart from rival products in the market but also elevate users’ experience like eye and hand tracking capabilities, video streaming and conferencing, and more.
For the first time, Bloomberg details how Apple’s new mixed reality headset will work.
Here is how Apple’s new mixed-reality headset will show AR and VR content, immersive videos, and more
Rumor mills claim that the new mixed reality headset will be equipped with a powerful processor like M series chips in Macs, cameras, sensors, up to two displays, an on-the-waist battery pack, and flexible headbands and will run on RealityOS or rxOS to support video conferencing, video streaming, and gaming.
Here is how it will deliver:
Eye and hand gestures controls
- The new headset will be equipped with multiple sensors to read users’ eyes to select on-screen items like apps and buttons. The external cameras will analyze users’ hands like pinching the thumb and index finger together to activate the task. This capability removes the need for hand controllers.
- The device will feature two ultra-high-resolution displays for VR and AR content and like the Apple Watch, the new headset will feature Digital Crown to switch between AR and VR modes.
- Several external cameras will be positioned on the headset to enable augmented reality “pass-through mode” which will bring the user’s real environment to the forefront.
- VR mode will deliver a fully immersive experience.
- For users with prescription glasses, Apple will offer custom lenses.
Video conferencing in VR
- As FaceTime video calling in VR is expected to be one of the new headset’s core features, two users, both with Apple mixed reality headsets, will appear in realistic avatars. Only, realistic avatars will be supported during one-on-one video chats, and in FaceTime group video calls, other participants will be shown as an icon or Memoji.
- The tech giant is allegedly in talks with several media partners to develop content in VR for the new headset like Dolby Laboratories Inc. and Walt Disney Co.. The company is also updating its Apple TV+ content for the headset.
- A dedicated video-watching feature for users to feel like they are watching a movie on a big screen in another environment like space or jungle.
iOS experience in 3D
- The device will offer iOS and iPadOS app experience in a 3D environment like Photos, Safari, Calendar, Messages, and others, along with Apple’s services like TV+, Music, and others,
The experience should feel familiar to Apple users. When they put the headset on, the main interface will be nearly identical to that of the iPhone and iPad, featuring a home screen with a grid of icons that can be reorganized. Users will be able to pin widgets, such as the weather, calendar appointments, email and stock-market performance, among their app icons.
- Supports voice assistant, Siri for users to send texts or save information.
- The tech giant is working on health-tracking functions and the ability to type in midair with their hands.
- Apple’s mixed reality headset will also work as an external monitor for a Mac in VR but users will require a trackpad or mouse and a physical keyboard to control the computer.
- The device will be equipped with two powerful chips: one of them will be a variation of the M2 chips with a dedicated processor for graphics and mixed-reality experiences and the second chip will be called a Reality Processor for gaming.
Gaming is expected to be a popular offering from third- party developers, and Apple has created its own underlying engine to power VR games. In 2017, the company released ARKit and other tools to help developers prepare augmented reality experiences on the iPhone. This helped set the stage for programmers to build apps, games and services for the headset.
Bloomberg believes that Apple’s new features will place its new mixed-reality headset in a strong position to compete with Meta’s Quest headsets which are currently dominating the market.
The eye and hand tracking may end up being the most memorable element of the headset. As with its earlier big bets, Apple likes to include a groundbreaking interface that sets its products apart from competitors. With the iPod, it was the click wheel. With the iPhone and iPad, it was the multitouch approach. And with the Apple Watch, it was the Digital Crown.