Apple VR was going to look very different – and it still could in a few years time

Apple VR
(Image credit: Ian Zelbo)

Tim Cook originally didn't want the Apple VR headset to look like a traditional VR unit. Instead, Cook wanted something a little closer to Google Glass —a pair of smart glasses that sit comfortably on the face, and don't obstruct a user's sight. Something for everyday use, not something that requires you to be rooted in one spot. 

According to a new report by Mark Gurman for Bloomberg however, technical limitations detailed in the extensive and detailed editorial meant Cook has had to admit defeat and release the device that he didn't want – although we might see something closer to the CEO's original vision in the future.

But even the new headset that may well be released could have some issues, and there are already detractors to what some have started to call "Tim Cook's legacy."

Something that can go everywhere

Steve Jobs had a massive lasting impact on Apple and the spaces that it touched. The best iPhone, iPad, and even the Apple Watch all had a tremendous impact on what happened in the tech space, with lasting aftershocks that are felt now. Apple VR is likely just what Cook sees as his iPhone, or his iPad – something that will leave a lasting impression on the industry, and cement his place even further into Apple and tech history.

But development has been a long and difficult one, apparently punctuated by indecision and uncontrollable difficulties like the global pandemic. Though the headset is nearing its debut, there are those at Apple who feel only third-party developer support can 'save' the product, while unrealistic user behaviour expectations — like owners wearing the VR headset to parties! — seems far removed from the current sentiment towards wearable computers like the Meta Quest hardware.

Gurman goes into great detail in his fascinating look at the problems that VR headset has faced, and how Tim Cook never wanted it to look like it does. In fact, Cook even said of the early pioneering VR headsets like the Samsung Gear VR and the HTC Vive, to an audience of students,  “Nobody in here—few people in here—think it’s acceptable to be tethered to a computer walking in here and sitting down. Few people are going to view that it’s acceptable to be enclosed in something, because we’re all social people at heart.” Instead, Cook viewed the AR eyeglass alternative as something that would be truly useful.

His nonchalance to the Apple VR idea led to what some on his team 'perceived as indecision, leading to delays and concerns about obtaining sufficient resources.' Yet the device seems to be coming very, very soon – so those delays may have finally reached a head.

As for Tim's glasses, some amongst Apple joke that it's a hopeless project, worked on to keep him happy. Since then, and with no progress since 2019, the AR glasses are 'all but dead', with many saying it could be four years before we see anything like them.

Tammy Rogers
Senior Staff Writer

As iMore's Senior Staff writer, Tammy uses her background in audio and Masters in screenwriting to pen engaging product reviews and informative buying guides. The resident audiophile (or audio weirdo), she's got an eye for detail and a love of top-quality sound. Apple is her bread and butter, with attention on HomeKit and Apple iPhone and Mac hardware. You won't find her far away from a keyboard even outside of working at iMore – in her spare time, she spends her free time writing feature-length and TV screenplays. Also known to enjoy driving digital cars around virtual circuits, to varying degrees of success. Just don't ask her about AirPods Max - you probably won't like her answer.