Apple's Upcoming AR/VR Headset to Require Connection to iPhone

The first AR/VR headset that Apple has in development will need to be wirelessly tethered to an iPhone or another Apple device to unlock full functionality, reports The Information.

apple mixed reality headset mockup feature orange
It will be similar to the WiFi-only version of the Apple Watch, which requires an ‌iPhone‌ connection to work. The headset is meant to wirelessly communicate with another Apple device, which will handle most of the powerful computing.

According to The Information, Apple recently completed work on the 5-nanometer custom chips that are set to be used in the headset, and that's where the connectivity detail comes from.

Apple has completed the key system on a chip (SoC) that will power the headset, along with two additional chips. All three chips have hit the tape-out stage, so work on the physical design has wrapped up and it's now time for trial production.

The chips are not as powerful as the chips used in Apple's Macs and iOS devices, without a neural engine for AI and machine learning capabilities. The chip is designed to optimize for wireless data transmission, compressing and decompressing video, and power efficiency for maximum battery life.

Though designed to work with an iOS device, the headset has a CPU and GPU, so there's a chance that it could have a standalone mode with limited functionality.

TSMC is manufacturing the chips that will be used in the headset, and mass production is said to be at least a year away. The first AR/VR headset could be released as soon as 2022, but the launch could also be pushed back if work on the device is not completed in time.

The Information has also heard that work has been completed on the image sensor and display driver for the headset, and TSMC is still working out issues with the image sensor given its large size. TSMC is working to increase the yield that it is getting during trial production.

This AR/VR headset that's in development is separate from a set of augmented reality smart glasses that are in the works. The sleeker, smaller smart glasses will follow the headset and are expected to launch in 2023.

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Top Rated Comments

Solver Avatar
36 months ago
Will is be using eyeOS?
Score: 38 Votes (Like | Disagree)
prizm Avatar
36 months ago

Don't own an iPhone (I use Android), so that gift of of an Apple Watch I recv'd was worthless and re-gifted. Great idea, Tim! Make products that people can't use unless they're fully invested in Apple's ecosystem. Once I abandoned my iPhone for Android, moving completely away from Apple products became so simple.
So...if you said goodbye to Apple, why are you here?
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jkev57 Avatar
36 months ago

If they don't call this EyePods it's a hard miss (half joking). Or maybe they'll repurpose the iSight branding (less of a joke)?

Either way, wait till version 3 or 4 to get standalone connectivity so everyone who bought the first three have to re-purchase. Man, it's nice owning this stock.
I was always disappointed that Apple called it’s web browser Safari instead of iBrowse (Eyebrows).
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Moonlight Avatar
36 months ago
But can I get different colored VR bands to match my Apple Watch?
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
rorschach Avatar
36 months ago
Just like the Watch. Gen 1 had apps all hosted on the phone and just acted like a display of sorts. Very slow. Then we got native apps later.

I assume future versions will become more and more independent, but probably will still require an iPhone for the foreseeable future.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dojoman Avatar
36 months ago

Don't own an iPhone (I use Android), so that gift of of an Apple Watch I recv'd was worthless and re-gifted. Great idea, Tim! Make products that people can't use unless they're fully invested in Apple's ecosystem. Once I abandoned my iPhone for Android, moving completely away from Apple products became so simple.
It's not a conspiracy. If Apple wants to sell more watch wouldn't it makes sense to make it compatible with more OS instead of limiting to just iOS? There's a reason it only works for Apple eco system.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)