Apple tried to make a cheap headset for iPhone VR, but scrapped the project

Samsung Gear
Samsung Gear (Image credit: Samsung)

What you need to know

  • Apple almost released a cheap VR headset for the iPhone a few years ago.
  • A new report says the company was looking to develop a device to rival Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR for release in 2019.
  • The project was scrapped because of technical issues including problems with head tracking.

A new report has revealed that Apple tried to make a cheap VR headset for iPhone to rival Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR, before eventually scrapping the project.

A new report Tuesday (opens in new tab) from The Information into the troubled development of Apple VR claims that the company started developing "a device similar to Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear VR" way back in 2017. The report says the device would have been "a cheap headset" that let people experience VR by using their iPhone as a stereoscopic display "for basic AR and VR experiences."

According to the report, the device was meant to debut after the iPhone 11, which came out in 2019 and was one of the company's best iPhones in recent memory.

Sadly, the report says that the team "struggled with technical issues, including poor tracking of head movements" which were vital to making people " feel comfortably immersed in digital environments." The report says that Apple ultimately ditched the project, but that some code pertaining to its existence was leaked in 2019.

The Information's report also revealed that Apple's main VR project was supposed to come out in 2019, and that the very earliest prototypes ran Windows. According to the report, Apple could include an external screen on its VR headset when it eventually does release so as to show people your facial expressions.

It is reported that Apple's VR headset could actually be released next year, with an announcement possible before the end of 2022, likely after Apple unveils the iPhone 14 which is expected in September.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9