Bloomberg: Apple's First AR/VR Headset 'Pricey, Niche Precursor' to More Ambitious AR Glasses and Could Launch Next Year

Apple's first virtual reality headset will be a "pricey, niche precursor" to a more ambitious augmented reality product, according to a new report from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman.

Apple VR Feature

As a mostly virtual reality device, it will display an all-encompassing 3-D digital environment for gaming, watching video and communicating. AR functionality, the ability to overlay images and information over a view of the real world, will be more limited. Apple has planned to launch the product as soon as 2022, going up against Facebook Inc.'s Oculus, Sony Corp.'s PlayStation VR and headsets from HTC Corp., the people said. They asked not to be identified discussing private plans.

According to the report, the initial device has hit "several development hurdles" and the company has "conservative" sales expectations. However, the high-end, niche product reportedly aims to prepare outside developers and consumers for more mainstream AR glasses further down the line.

The plans suggest that Apple's first headset will be far more expensive than those from rivals, which cost about $300 to $900. Some Apple insiders believe the company may sell only one headset per day per retail store. Apple has roughly 500 stores, so in that scenario, annual sales would be just over 180,000 units — excluding other sales channels. That would put it on par with other pricey Apple products, such as the $5,999 Mac Pro desktop computer. An Apple spokesman declined to comment.

According to the report, Apple plans to put much higher resolution displays in the headset than those in current VR offerings, and it aims to include advanced chips more powerful than even its latest M1 processors found in Apple Silicon Macs.

Apple is also said to have included a fan in the design of the headset, which is codenamed N301 and in a late prototype stage and yet to be finalized, suggesting the company's plans could change or the device could even be scrapped.

The inclusion of the fan and powerful processors is said to have initially resulted in a device that was too large and heavy, so Apple reportedly brought the headset closer to the face and helped shrink the size. This meant users can't wear eyeglasses while using the headset, so to address this, Apple has developed a system where custom prescription lenses can be inserted into the headset over the VR screens. Apple is also said to be discussing how it might implement prescriptions at the point of sale online and in retail stores.

Meanwhile, the AR glasses, codenamed N421, are in an even earlier development stage and are "several years away," according to people with knowledge of the matter, although Apple had initially planned to to release them as early as 2023.

Current prototypes of the AR glasses are said to resemble high-priced sunglasses with thick frames that house the battery and chips. Former chief designer Jony Ive, who has since departed the company, is said to have preferred the concept of the N421 glasses over the headset.

Apple was initially aiming for an ultra-powerful headset that came with a hub to house the processor, but Ive did not want to sell a device that would require a separate, stationary device for full functionality.

Ive instead wanted a headset with less powerful technology that could be embedded directly in the device, but the leader of the AR/VR team, Mike Rockwell, wanted the more powerful device. It was a standoff that lasted for months, and Tim Cook ultimately sided with Ive.

As a result, the headset is reportedly designed to work as a standalone device, meaning it can operate on a battery rather than be plugged into a wall or a Mac. According to Gurman, prototypes of the headset include external cameras to enable some AR features. Apple is said to be testing using the cameras for hand-tracking and is also working on a feature where a user can type virtually in the air to input text.

Apple's AR/VR ambitions have long been rumored, with many of the developments emerging from Gurman's reporting. Be sure to check out the full Bloomberg article, and for everything we know on Apple's AR/VR plans, check our dedicated roundup.

Related Roundup: Apple Vision Pro
Buyer's Guide: Vision Pro (Buy Now)
Related Forum: Apple Vision Pro

Popular Stories

Beyond iPhone 13 Better Blue Face ID Single Camera Hole

10 Reasons to Wait for Next Year's iPhone 17

Monday July 8, 2024 5:00 am PDT by
Apple's iPhone development roadmap runs several years into the future and the company is continually working with suppliers on several successive iPhone models simultaneously, which is why we sometimes get rumored feature leaks so far ahead of launch. The iPhone 17 series is no different – already we have some idea of what to expect from Apple's 2025 smartphone lineup. If you plan to skip...
iPhone 15 Pro Cameras

iPhone 17 Pro Max Will Be First Model to Feature Three 48MP Cameras

Thursday July 11, 2024 12:20 am PDT by
Next year's iPhone 17 Pro Max will feature an upgraded 48-megapixel Tetraprism camera for enhanced photo quality and zoom functionality, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In his n-iphone-tetraprism-upgrade-ca62dd37e364">latest investor note published to Medium, Kuo said the key specification change would be a 1/2.6" 48MP CIS sensor, up from the 1/3.1" 12MP sensor expected to be used...
iPhone 16 Pro Front Update Blue

iPhone 16 Pro Rumored to Support 40W Fast Charging and 20W MagSafe

Wednesday July 10, 2024 3:57 am PDT by
Apple's forthcoming iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max will support 40W wired fast charging and 20W MagSafe charging, claims a rumor currently swirling around China. Right now, iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro models are capable of up to 27W peak charging speeds with an appropriate USB-C power adapter, while official MagSafe chargers from Apple and authorized third parties can wirelessly charge...
AirPods Pro Beta Firmware

Apple Releases New AirPods Pro 2 Beta Firmware With Support for iOS 18 Features

Tuesday July 9, 2024 11:46 am PDT by
Apple today released a second beta firmware for the AirPods Pro 2, including both the Lightning and USB-C versions. The updated firmware has a build number 7A5244b and it is available to developers at the current time. This is the second firmware update that Apple has released since announcing new AirPods Pro 2 features in June. There are several new features that are coming to the AirPods...
Beyond iPhone 13 Better Blue Face ID

iPhone 16 Models Rumored to Have Face ID-Related Design Changes

Tuesday July 9, 2024 9:15 am PDT by
iPhone 16 models coming later this year could have some Face ID-related "design changes," supply chain publication DigiTimes said this week. The original source of this information is British newspaper The Telegraph, which six weeks ago reported that Face ID component supplier Coherent was considering selling or repurposing a manufacturing facility in Newton Aycliffe, a small town in...
orka desktop

MacStadium Releases Free Orka Desktop macOS Virtualization Software

Wednesday July 10, 2024 6:55 am PDT by
Mac cloud services provider MacStadium today unveiled Orka Desktop, a free virtualization tool that allows Mac users to create and manage macOS virtual machines locally via an easy-to-use admin panel. Orka users can create or download custom macOS images locally for their own personal use, or to collaborate with team members using a familiar workflow, versioning, audit, and review controls....

Top Rated Comments

satcomer Avatar
45 months ago
This whole story that reminds me of wishful writing and not based in facts!
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
G5isAlive Avatar
45 months ago
So Apple makes a computer without fans, but has to install fans in a headset?

The rumors coming out lately are so bizarre and so out of left field that I am starting to think someone at Apple is having fun putting out garbage rumors on purpose. These glasses have been talked about for years, I am surprised they are not further along... or are they? Maybe Apple is trying to put out misinformation to lure the competition into complacency, and then BOOM. They release a mature and great product when no one expects it. Okay, maybe thats fantasy but it makes just as much sense as these rumors.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
44267547 Avatar
45 months ago
Apple's first virtual reality headset will be a "pricey, niche precursor" to a more ambitious augmented reality product...”

Pricey? I wouldn’t be surprised if this headset ranges north of $2k or more. I don’t even think Apple knows what to expect from a product like this, and more than anything, it’s probably more about demoing the future than expectation of consumers to flock to something like this.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Marbles1 Avatar
45 months ago
> all-encompassing 3-D digital environment for gaming, watching video and communicating.

Endless rumours and suggestions it's going to great for gaming. And yet Apple has done nothing serious about gaming.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
DNichter Avatar
45 months ago
I am just not seeing the value of such a device in my life, but I guess as somewhat of a beta product to fine tune the software and experience - it makes sense. Glasses would be a much better experience in my eyes as you aren't closing yourself off from the outside world. With a headset, you're likely stationary. This seems to go in the opposite direction from where Apple has been trending as of late - health, fitness, interactivity, etc.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
djcerla Avatar
45 months ago
Hardly. No clear value proposition in such a device, that’s not how Apple rolls.

They are all in for AR, which is the game changer technology.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)