Latest Apple VR headset leak gives us clues about how it might get used
Speculation is mounting that Apple might finally unveil its first VR headset on Monday, and it looks like it’s going to be something special. A massive new report from The Information (via 9to5Mac) sheds some light on how it might look, showing a headset with a noticeably slimmer shell that might make it similar in thickness to a pair of ski goggles. It also suggests that the company might do away with a controller entirely, instead letting users control their experience with hand tracking and voice commands.
In addition to the displays, The Information claims that the headset will come with a camera system capable of grabbing video of the real world and beaming it back to the user in the headset for augmented reality purposes. It’s not clear whether that camera will be built into the headset or in a separate accessory, but it may work along the lines of Meta’s latest standalone headset, which features a pair of cameras on either side of the headband that can track the position of the torso to create virtual avatars that can stand up and walk around.
That camera system could have a few other tricks up its sleeve too, as The Information notes that it will have a dozen lenses to improve the image quality and reduce distortion. That would be a welcome improvement over the current generation of headsets that suffer from low-quality lenses. Another rumor suggests that the headset will use an array of microphones to pick up your voice for Siri and other functions. Finally, it might feature a LiDAR sensor to scan the room and better place objects in AR apps.
One thing to keep in mind is that all this stuff is going to need a lot of power to operate. According to The Information’s Mark Gurman, Apple will include a battery pack with the headset that’s about the size of an iPhone MagSafe battery pack—or roughly the same as a deck of cards. The battery is said to recharge via USB-C and connect to the headset using a proprietary round connector that “locks in” with a clockwise turn.
The headset itself is reportedly going to have multiple processors, including the same M2 chip found in some of the latest Macs. That should give it enough power to run a dedicated operating system for the headset called xrOS, similar to how iPhones and iPads run iOS and Apple Watches run watchOS.
Apparently, Apple plans to build a VR App Store that focuses on gaming, watching movies and TV and socializing with friends in augmented reality. But it also wants the headset to become a major tool for content creation, with rumors suggesting support for apps like Pages, Keynote and GarageBand. This is a major contrast to the Google Daydream platform, which is geared towards mobile games and social apps. But what’s most important is that the headset will be comfortable and easy to wear for long periods of time, which isn’t necessarily a given in this market.