Road to WWDC: What to expect from Reality Pro and AR/VR

An artist's concept of what Apple's VR/AR headset might look like
(Image credit: Antonio De Rosa / ADR Studio Design)

This year's WWDC is now right around the corner and expectations are as high as ever. The annual unveiling of the next iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV software is always enough to draw a crowd, but this year things have been ratcheted up a notch. This year, things are getting virtual.

At least, that's what we've been told to expect. Alongside all that new software and several new Macs (including the first-ever 15-inch MacBook Air), we're told that Reality Pro will finally debut. Apple's first AR/VR headset could be the next Apple Watch or a giant flop, and we'll find out soon enough.

But what will the headset offer and how will people use it? Those are questions we don't really have the answers to just yet, but that isn't going to stop people from pondering them. Us included.

What we know so far

When it comes to concrete facts about the Reality Pro headset, we're sadly lacking. That isn't all that unexpected for a device that has no precedent — this isn't a refresh of an existing product, of course — but it does make predictions difficult.

That isn't to say that we haven't seen leaks, but leaks are always problematic especially when it comes to Apple. Google and other brands leak more than a sieve at times but Apple? Not so much.

That being said, what do we think we know?

Well, bits and pieces. There's talk of multiple cameras on both the inside and outside of the headset for a start. An external hip-mounted battery is another thing, while the actual mounting point that attaches to the user's head is thought to be soft and comfortable, which is good news.

A recent leak by display analyst Ross Young shared more details, specifically about the displays being used inside Reality Pro. And they sound impressive, to say the least.

Young speaks of two 1.41-inch Micro OLED displays both packing a 4,000 PPI rating. That should make for crystal clear and super crisp images, but that's just the start. Young also reckons that we can expect a peak brightness in the region of 5,000 nits which is pretty insane. To put that into perspective, that's brighter than most HD televisions can manage — and these displays are right in front of your eyes.

There will no doubt be engineering reasons that the brightness that will reach your pupils won't be anything like that level of retina-burning proportions, but the high figure does at least confirm one thing — Apple doesn't appear to be playing around.

Nor should it be, considering one of the other tidbits that have been floating around for months. The price.

If those rumors are true, Reality Pro will set buyers back around $3,000 which is a lot of money. Too much? The market will tell, but the gist we're getting is that this version of Reality Pro isn't necessarily about selling units but rather getting the ecosystem of apps lined up and ready for future, cheaper models.

Speaking of apps, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has hinted that Apple will target productivity, gaming, and fitness as three main focuses for the headset. Gaming is an obvious one, but we're told that Apple has designs on making iPad apps run in virtual reality, with all of the company's main productivity and communications apps ready to go.

The wishlist

An artist's concept of Apple's VR headset, turned up to the right

(Image credit: Antonio De Rosa / ADR Studio Design)

When it comes to suggesting features we'd like to see from Reality Pro, it's particularly difficult. A new product the likes of which Apple has never shipped before makes it difficult to know what kinds of things it could be capable of, for example.

Despite that, expectations are high — perhaps because of the fact nobody really knows what Apple has up its sleeve.

Could Reality Pro finally mean that Apple's Stage Manager will make sense? It's all but useless on the Mac and slightly more useful on the iPad. But taken in the context of virtual and augmented reality, it might finally come into its own. A way for people to multitask in 3D space. Just imagine having app windows floating around in front of you. Sounds pretty great, doesn't it?

It's also easy to hope that the headset will finally see Apple go all-in on games, too. Some sort of Apple Arcade integration would be interesting, with an all-new class of titles available for the existing subscription. Nobody wants to just see existing games like Angry Birds get a new lick of paint though — let's have brand-new, purpose-built titles.

But really, the biggest hope here is that Apple has something big on its hands. The iPhone's ubiquitous, the Mac is the Mac, and the Apple Watch is already the world's most popular watch. We all want something new, something exciting, and something that will drive technology forward. Some had expected that to be Apple's entry into the foldable phone market, but that's yet to happen. There was (and still is) the Apple Car, too. But could Reality Pro be the next big thing?

Not at $3,000, sure. But Apple's said to already have plans for a future model that costs around half that. And in years we can expect it to cost a quarter or less. And that's when the fun really begins.

For that to happen, we'll need apps — and Apple's WWDC unveiling should hopefully hint that it's going to give developers the tools needed to build some great ones. After all, it's apps that took the iPhone from being a cool phone to a computer in your pocket. Now it's time to put one on our heads as well.

The Timeline

The Reality Pro headset is expected to be announced at WWDC 2023 on June 5, that much we already know. What we don't yet know is when it'll actually go on sale.

If Apple follows the pattern we expect, the headset won't reach stores until much later this year. That's assuming Apple wants to give developers time to build apps for the headset before putting it in the hands and on the heads of paying customers, of course.

Our guess would be a launch around September time, but that will make for a busy month. The iPhone 15 is expected in September, while new Apple Watches will surely be announced as well. One thing's for certain, September could be a very expensive month for some.

Oliver Haslam

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.