Thanks to games such as Half-Life: Alyx and high-end headsets, including the excellent Valve Index, we’re now seeing VR live up to its potential. There’s still a way to go, but its popularity could increase once Apple releases a VR-focused device next year, followed by an AR device in 2023.
According to Bloomberg, Apple has two headsets in the works. The first of these will be a VR set with AR capabilities. The plan is to include displays that have a higher resolution than those in current rivals. The Valve Index, for reference, has a 1440 × 1600 LCD panel for each eye for a combined total resolution of 2880 x 1600.
The VR headset, codenamed N301, has reportedly been tested with chips that outperform Apple’s lauded M1 processors, which sounds enticing. It’s a standalone device so you won’t need any extra hardware for power.
Will Apple’s standalone headset match the PC-powered Valve Index?
Those who find VR headsets make them sweat like they’re doing a workout will be happy to learn that Apple’s offering could have the perfect solution: an integrated fan to keep wearers cool.
One of the headset’s most innovative design features is its ability to accept custom prescription lenses over the screen. Most VR wearables leave a space between a user’s face and the display for glasses, but this gap could be removed if the lenses work as intended. Apple is still looking at exactly how this would be implemented and whether it would face regulatory rules.
To make the headset lighter, Apple is planning to use a fabric exterior. The device is also said to be more expensive than rivals—probably over $1,000—with insiders believing the company may only sell one headset per day per store.
The VR headset will reportedly be more of a niche product that prepares devs and consumers for Apple’s AR glasses, codenamed N421, which may be unveiled in 2023.
Reports of Apple developing a VR headset go back to 2016. In 2019, we heard that Cupertino was working on two headsets launching in 2022 and 2023. Bloomberg’s report lines up with those dates, so next year could finally see Apple enter the virtual reality market.