Apple’s rumored mixed reality headset appears to be the worst-kept secret in tech, and a new report on the device from Information (the second this week) is packed with details about the turbulent development of the unannounced product.
One of the most notable parts of the story is Apple’s decision to go with a standalone headset. At one point, Apple hadn’t yet decided whether to move forward with a more powerful VR headset that would be paired with a base station or a stand-alone one. While Apple’s AR/VR lead Mike Rockwell apparently preferred the version with the base station, which included a processor that eventually shipped as the M1 Ultra, according to Information — Apple executives opted for the standalone product. Bloomberg reported similar details in 2020.
That choice has apparently had long-term effects on headphone development. “When the decision was made, the device’s multiple chips had already been in development for several years, making it impossible to go back to the drawing board to create, say, a single chip to handle all headphone tasks.” Information informed. “Other challenges, such as incorporating 14 cameras into the headset, have caused headaches for hardware and algorithm engineers.”
The report also includes details about Jony Ive’s continued consultation on the design of the project even after his official departure from Apple. I have “preferred” a portable battery, perhaps like what Magic Leap offers. But other prototypes have had the battery in the headband of the headphones, and it’s unclear which one will be used in the final design. Information He says.
Apple reportedly showed off the headphones to its board of directors last week, so it could be close to a public reveal. That said, it might not be announced until later this year and it might not hit stores until 2023, so we might be waiting a while to try it out for ourselves. For later, Apple is developing a pair of AR glasses that look like Ray-Ban’s Wayfarer glasses, but Information says that “it is still many years away from its launch”. (I’m curious how these will differ in style from the actual wayfarer glasses from Meta and Ray-Bans.)