Why I'm glad Apple's VR headset is allegedly delayed into WWDC this year
Could this have been the plan all along?
Apple is allegedly going to announce its Reality Pro AR/VR headset at WWDC this year instead of a rumored event in April, and I can't help but think that this was the plan all along.
The company has long been known to enter a new category long after other companies have - from the tablet to the smartwatch for example, and the same looks to apply again to its AR/VR headset.
Granted, it has announced events solely for new products in the past, such as the iPad back in January 2010 (opens in new tab), but the Apple Watch was announced as a 'One More Thing' at the iPhone 6 event back in September 2014.
With WWDC being a focus for developers in finding out what new software updates will entail, it’s only logical to showcase the headset at the same event (opens in new tab), perhaps as a 'One More Thing' debut as well.
Don't rely on the rumor-verse
Rumors are a small part of what makes being a fan of Apple's whole ecosystem fun. They make you wonder how you could use future products in your everyday routine, and you try to justify how you can save up for one before it's even confirmed by the company.
Yet the AR/VR headset has seen so many rumors that I’ve found it hard to follow. From being rumored to arrive in 2025, followed by another rumor about its second-generation model arriving in 2024, and then another about it being on sale by Spring this year, and at the time of writing, we had it pegged to debut at an April event. The rumors were a mess and the timescales were all over the place.
All of these alleged rumors and release dates never made sense to me, especially with it being so close to June, which is when WWDC is usually on, where Apple unveils previews of its upcoming software updates for all of its products.
Instead, to see the headset be announced at the event alongside these updates for iPhone, iPad, and the rest of its lineup works better, in order to excite developers and users alike in one go.
Taking inspiration from other VR troopers
Take Sony's PS VR2 headset (opens in new tab), which is set to release on February 22 for PlayStation 5 users. This was announced a year before in a blogpost (opens in new tab), giving users and potential developers a rough idea as to how the headset could benefit them.
Since then, we've seen games such as Resident Evil Village and Grand Turismo 7 (opens in new tab) announce support for it, so owners of these games and a PlayStation 5, could take advantage of the headset with these new features.
The long-lead times from announcement to release is important for headsets like these, and it's no different for Apple. Tempering expectations while giving users ideas as to how they could use the headset in various ways would only add to the hype of its VR/AR headset, and Sony has already achieved this with PS VR2.
Focusing on its North Star in VR
I'm not expecting pre-orders to be available for this headset once the keynote at WWDC wraps up this year. I can see it being more of a 'sneak peek', to give developers and potential customers ideas as to how apps could work with this headset, in tandem with iOS 17, macOS 14, and other potential updates that are usually announced at June's event.
It could be similar to how the next generation of CarPlay was showcased at WWDC in 2022 - a preview of what's coming to a generation of cars.
It's a huge new category for Apple and for how users could wear the headset to work with iPhones and Macs, such as having bigger, extended screens when using macOS, or watching Apple TV Plus movies with an enhanced version of SharePlay in VR with friends and family for example.
It also wouldn't be a stretch to suggest that Apple arranged some false rumors about it debuting in April to start with, which is why we're now seeing new rumors of it debuting at WWDC.
Granted, I'd like to see widgets from iOS 16 make the move over to macOS 14, alongside much-needed improvements to Stage Manager in iPadOS 17 to make it useable and less of a buggy experience. But I'm mainly interested in how this headset could work in everyday life, and how it could benefit those with accessibility needs the most.
Regardless, WWDC looks to be one of Apple’s most important events in years, and for me, I’m excited about what this new frontier in AR and VR will bring for users and Apple alike.
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Daryl is iMore's Features Editor, overseeing long-form and in-depth articles and op-eds. Daryl loves using his experience as both a journalist and Apple fan to tell stories about Apple's products and its community, from the apps we use everyday to the products that have been long forgotten in the Cupertino archives.
Previously Software & Downloads Writer at TechRadar, and Deputy Editor at StealthOptional, he's also written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider (opens in new tab)', which tells the story of the beginnings of Lara Croft and the series' early development. He's also written for many other publications including WIRED, MacFormat, Bloody Disgusting, VGC, GamesRadar, Nintendo Life, VRV Blog, The Loop Magazine, SUPER JUMP, Gizmodo, Film Stories, TopTenReviews, Miketendo64 and Daily Star.