Report: Google isn't Apple's competitor, it's Meta — all thanks to AR/VR

Oculus
Oculus (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Google has historically been Apple's biggest competitor, but changes to the tech landscape will also change that, too.
  • Meta, formerly Facebook, is set to become Apple's biggest competitor according to a new report.
  • Both Meta and Apple are expected to compete in the world of AR/VR headsets.

Apple has long been considered to have a big competitor in Google, all thanks to the battle between iPhone and Android. That's old news now, however, with Meta — the artist formerly known as Facebook — set to become the company Apple does battle with the most.

According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, writing in his weekly Power On newsletter, Apple is on a collision course with Meta thanks to its impending entry into the world of AR/VR, or mixed reality, headsets. Facebook recently announced one of its very own, with Apple expected to get in on the act next year.

Last month, Meta previewed Project Cambria, its first true mixed reality headset. To date, Meta's headsets have focused on virtual reality, enveloping users completely in the digital world. That compares with augmented reality glasses, which overlay digital information on top of the real world. The Cambria headset mixes both, adding full-color AR overlay abilities to VR.

That's something we're told to expect from a rumored Apple headset, too. And while Apple's headset is likely to cost considerably more than the one carrying a Meta logo, they will functionally be very similar.

Gurman also points out that headsets are just the beginning, too. Meta, still irked by its failure to enter the phone market, intends to ensure it doesn't repeat that mistake with wearables — and has its own smartwatch in the works. That'll likely be a direct competitor to Apple's existing Apple Watch Series 7 — the best Apple Watch the company has ever made.

But that's just the beginning. While Apple is entering Meta territory for headsets, Meta plans to enter Apple's world of smartwatches. It's no secret that the Apple Watch—despite some early concerns—is the market leader in internet-connected watches. Now Meta wants a piece of the pie.

With Apple CEO Tim Cook having already taken shots at Meta and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, over the way the pair handle user data and privacy, we can only imagine how things will go down when cold hard money is on the line.

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.

6 Comments
  • If you repeat something in media enough, it becomes true?
    Facebook was suffering a brandname issue. They were also looking at Apple cutting off significant data and knowing that Google would be(forced to) headed there one day. So they come up with Meta, an AR/VR internet reality that would get people away from Apple (and Google) into the Facebook data stream. Of course the technology is comically unready for this but clearly the media and tech review was very ready to eat it up. Good job with PR MetaBook. Apple is the gatekeeper(stack owner) of the Apple ecosystem. Microsoft is largely the same for MS. Google is largely the same and looking to be more in control of theirs. These are the overwhelming gatekeepers of getting to the Internet. it's glowing to be a tiny bit harder than Zuckerbergs fantasy PR skit. Seriously, you can't really believe in two years a billion people will be strapping on Facebook goggles using Facebook OS to live inside VR?
  • VR is very much ready, and is doing quite well. Facebook's, or Meta's Oculus Quest, and Quest 2 are doing very well. They have 6 degrees of freedom controllers, and they also allow hand and finger tracking as well. The Quest 2 now even supports AR as well. What isn't ready is full on AR, with really high resolution displays. Its why rumours of the next Quest 3 will not only have VR, but full colour AR as well. Plus they have a large library of apps. Apple has no apps for VR, or AR. BTW, AR apps on iPhones and iPads do not count at all, especially since AR apps for a headset are completely different. The Quests use Android OS. Clearly you know nothing about VR, or AR. Apples biggest problem will be pricing, and how low they can go.
  • What this all comes down to is this. Facebook was a fad. It is now thankfully in decline as people realize it is a scam. The company is - naturally - in full on Panic Mode. Any company that seriously thinks that “VR headsets” is the money-making future is seriously delusional. The problem is that Facebook has no products. It lives on advertising. There are lots of watches out there, and then there is the Apple watch. So, Facebook will throw tons of money at “VR headsets”, lose it all, and in a couple years Zuckerberg will be gone.
  • I would love to see Apple just throw a ton of money at everything Meta does and just drive them out of business. It's time that Facebook becomes a memory.
  • This Naddy6969 character clearly knows nothing about AR or VR, or even MR. Meta's Quest 3 is going to be an MR headset, which is both an AR and VR headset in one device. Today if you have a Quest 2 it also supports AR as well as VR, but the AR part is in black and white. That's because the Quest 2 cameras are only black and white cameras. The Quest 3 is supposedly going to have Wifi 6E. The Quest 2 already supports 120 fps with dual 2k displays, and is standalone. Apple's headset looks like it will have Wifi 6E support, but in order to take advantage of Wifi 6E, then you will need a new iPhone that will support Wifi 6E as well. That means any Apple customer that wants to use Apple's new Headset, will need to purchase a new iPhone that has Wifi 6E support. As of today there is no iPhone that supports Wifi 6E. Not to mention it looks like Apple will not be able to support or run Steam VR, or Windows VR or AR apps. Apple's headset will have no VR or AR apps for their new headset.
  • "That's something we're told to expect from a rumored Apple headset, too. And while Apple's headset is likely to cost considerably more than the one carrying a Meta logo, they will functionally be very similar." Looking at all the rumours of Apple's headset, it looks like you have to use an iPhone. Therefore Steam VR, and Windows VR/AR apps will not be supported by Apple's headset. Not to mention Meta's, and even Google's large library of Android apps will not work on Apple's Headset. Try and remember all of Apple's existing AR iPhone and iPad apps, will not work on Apple's new headset.