Apple VR leaks means you should probably skip the first generation

Concept for Apple VR as made by LetsGoDigital and Concept Creator
(Image credit: LetsGoDigital and Concept Creator)

Apple's rumored AR/VR headset is expected to be announced in 2023 and a new report claims to have more information about a product that was originally expected to ship last year.

The headset, which will reportedly cost upwards of $3,000, was the subject of a report by The Information (opens in new tab) that outlines a number of features and capabilities including magnetically attachable prescription lenses, a 120-degree field of view, and more.

Powered up, but not for long

One notable point raised by the report was the addition of an external battery pack that will be waist-mounted and connected to the headset via a cable.

"As of last year, the headset used an external battery pack tethered by cable as opposed to a battery integrated into the headband," the report notes. "The design choice has been controversial among Apple’s engineers given the company’s preference for cable-free designs." It's a choice that John Gruber (opens in new tab) also suggests could be a potential deal-breaker for users thanks to the additional clunky steps needed to use the headset.

Gruber points to the ease of use of the iPhone and Apple Watch, devices that can be used with the minimum of fuss. But putting a headset on could already be enough to give some users pause, while adding a cable and waist-mounted battery pack could be enough to put some off altogether. Assuming the rumored $3,000 price point doesn't do that already, of course. The report also notes that the external batteries will only last for around two hours per charge, too.

The Information also reiterated previous claims that the "headset has inward-facing displays for each eye and a large outward-facing display on the front of the device" to show facial expressions to people around the wearer. It isn't clear what the use case is, and it might be one feature we need to see before judging too harshly.

Additionally, the report claims that the Apple headset will offer a 120-degree field of view, an increase on the Meta Quest Pro's 106 degrees. Magnetically-attachable prescription lenses will allow glasses wearers to use the headset, although it isn't clear what additional cost users will incur.

As for use cases, the report is muddled on whether gaming will be a focus for Apple, but it does note that virtual meetings will be. However, it's also noted that existing iPhone apps will also work via the headset, although they'll run in 2D windows — possibly using an interface similar to Stage Manager.

Other notable features include an Apple Watch-like Digital Crown that will transition between the virtual and physical worlds and an H2 chip for a low-latency connection to Apple's latest AirPods. However, previous claims that the headset would feature interchangeable headbands similar to Apple Watch bands appear to be wide of the mark.

Oliver Haslam
Contributor

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.