Apple's Struggles With Long-Rumored AR/VR Headset Detailed in New Report

The Information's Wayne Ma today published a lengthy report detailing technical and leadership challenges that Apple has faced during development of its long-rumored AR/VR headset, which is currently expected to be announced by the end of 2023.

apple ar headset concept 1

Apple headset render created by Ian Zelbo based on The Information reporting

For example, the report claims that Apple's team working on the headset, led by former Dolby executive Mike Rockwell, regularly had to fight to get help with the project from other parts of the company. As of mid-2017, the team also worked out of office buildings in Sunnyvale, California that were several miles away from Apple's headquarters, which allegedly "helped preserve the group's invisibility to the rest of Apple."

In early 2018, for example, one of Rockwell's team members asked Apple's camera hardware engineering group to add a firmware feature that would improve the speed with which the headset's cameras could capture images and reproject them in a display. Rockwell's group wanted to include the feature in a prototype headset ahead of an important demo for Apple's top 100 employees, known as the T100. The member of Rockwell's group was told the headset wasn't a priority and his group would have to wait until after the iPhone XS shipped later that year.

The report adds that the team considered swappable batteries for the headset that would enable users to wear it for up to eight hours per day, but the idea was eventually scrapped due to the complexities involved. As of 2021, the headset had a battery that could last "several hours, in line with similar products," according to the report.

The full report outlines many other challenges and is a worthwhile read for those interested in the development of Apple's headset.

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, Takashi Mochizuki, and Debby Wu previously outlined issues that Apple has faced with the headset, ranging from overheating to camera and software challenges. Gurman said the headset will be powered by two chips, with at least one on par with the M1 Pro chip in the latest 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models.

The Information last year shared a render of Apple's supposed headset based on a "late-stage prototype" that it viewed. The report claimed the headset would have a curved visor with a soft mesh material, swappable headbands, and dual 8K displays. There may even be a third display, according to display industry consultant Ross Young.

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

Popular Stories

Apple Vision Pro 2 Feature 2

Apple Reportedly Suspends Work on Vision Pro 2

Tuesday June 18, 2024 8:17 am PDT by
Apple has suspended work on the second-generation Vision Pro headset to singularly focus on a cheaper model, The Information reports. Apple was widely believed to have plans to divide its Vision product line into two models, with one "Pro" model and one lower-cost standard model. The company is said to have been deprioritizing the next Vision Pro headset over the past year, gradually...
Apple WWDC24 Apple Intelligence hero 240610

Apple Explains iPhone 15 Pro Requirement for Apple Intelligence

Wednesday June 19, 2024 4:48 am PDT by
With iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia, Apple is introducing a new personalized AI experience called Apple Intelligence that uses on-device, generative large-language models to enhance the user experience across iPhone, iPad, and Mac. These new AI features require Apple's latest iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max models to work, while only Macs and iPads with M1 or later chips will...
M4 Real Feature Red

M4 MacBook Pro Models Expected to Launch in Late 2024

Tuesday June 18, 2024 10:50 am PDT by
MacBook Pro models with an M4 chip are expected to launch in the fourth quarter of 2024, according to display analyst Ross Young. In a tweet for subscribers, Young said that panel shipments for new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models are set to begin in the third quarter of 2024, which suggests a launch toward the end of the year. Apple started its M4 chip refresh in May with the launch...
2022 back to school apple feature

Apple's 2024 Back to School Sale Launching This Week

Monday June 17, 2024 12:27 pm PDT by
Apple will launch its annual Back to School promotion for university students in the United States and Canada this week, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Apple's back to school sales provide students with a free Apple gift card when purchasing a Mac or an iPad, and this year's promotion could help Apple push the new M2 iPad Air and M4 iPad Pro models. Last year, Apple offered U.S....
iOS 18 Calendar Feature

iOS 18: Calendar App Design Changes and Reminders Integration

Tuesday June 18, 2024 6:16 am PDT by
Apple in iOS 18 has given the Calendar app a major update, adding some welcome interface design changes, not to mention long-awaited integration with Reminders. In the month-by-month calendar view, the month now appears in large bold font in the top left, while the Events list toggle has been replaced by a new button that lets you choose between Compact, Stacked, Details, and List views. ...
watchOS 11 Thumb 2 1

watchOS 11 Supports Automatic Nap Detection

Monday June 17, 2024 4:05 pm PDT by
watchOS 11 appears to include a new feature that allows an Apple Watch to automatically detect and record when you're taking a nap. As shared on Reddit, an Apple Watch owner took a nap and was able to see the sleep data recorded in the Health app, despite not putting the device in Sleep Mode. Right now, the Apple Watch only tracks and records sleep when it is in Sleep Mode, and there is no...

Top Rated Comments

dbwie Avatar
27 months ago
We already have a built in, high tech AR/VR capability. It’s called our imagination. It’s free, no installation required.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Jimmdean Avatar
27 months ago
This should be something they work on without telling anyone they’re working on it.

because this is one of those things no one cares about until it’s impressive enough that they cannot ignore it.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TheYayAreaLiving ?️ Avatar
27 months ago
Way too many issues with this product.

I honestly don't think anyone in the AR/VR is interested anymore. Niche Market!
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
filmantopia Avatar
27 months ago

So it won't be for gaming, since apple are awful at gaming. So what will it be for? Design work? browsing reddit on a giant screen?
It'll be for everything, and more (that we simply have not imagined yet). It's a computer that's not bound by a 2D rectangle that sits in front of you.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
filmantopia Avatar
27 months ago
With any new major product, huge challenges are to be expected. Otherwise, everyone would already be making incredibly successful AR/VR products. Apple's tenacity and ability to overcome such challenges to produce a desirable, useful product is why Apple is successful at popularizing new platforms. That said, it's interesting to hear about the details.

As far as battery life, this mixed reality headset is looking like it's more in the realm of an "AR Mac"-- so while more battery is always better, it won't NEED to last all day. Whereas the AR glasses, which will launch a few years later, is more like an "AR iPhone", in which case extended battery is more critical.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
erikkfi Avatar
27 months ago
Looking forward to "great, part-day battery life."
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)