After several delays, 2022 was supposed to mark Apple’s entry into the virtual and augmented reality market. But difficulties related to the development of its first helmet could push back its launch even a little more. According to Bloomberg, Apple recently informed its suppliers that the device will probably only be released next year, instead of the originally planned release at the end of 2022.
Problems with overheating
At issue: overheating problems and concerns related to the cameras and the software part. Thermal envelope management is an essential element of consumer electronics products, from smartphones to laptops. The presentation of the device, which was supposed to take place in June at the WWDC conference, may also be postponed to the end of the year.
Several reports indicate that Apple has developed a chip “as powerful as the M1” for its headset, which would otherwise be more compact than an Oculus Quest 2. However, managing the heat released by such a chip is not easy. The Quest 2 for example does not use the full power of its Snapdragon XR2 chip precisely to avoid getting too hot.
The advantage of such a chip is that it allows more impressive experiences than what is possible to do today on a Quest 2. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, for example, hinted that the headset will have micro-Oled screens with a resolution of 4K per eye and cameras for doing augmented reality by passthrough.
A premium product
The device would be sold between 2000 and 3000 dollars and would be intended mainly for developers and enthusiasts of the brand in order to prepare the ground for future consumer glasses, lighter and less bulky. Apple envisions that the latter may one day (during the decade 2030) replace the iPhone.
Also according to Bloomberg, Tim Cook’s company is already planning a WWDC 2023 conference focused on the development of virtual and augmented reality applications for this future headset, which will have its own App Store. It would expect 10 million units sold in the year of its launch, a performance superior to that of the Quest 2, which costs only 349 euros.
Meta, the current leader in the sector with the Quest 2, is also due to unveil a premium headset this year, known for the moment under the code name Cambria. It will be a complementary product to Quest 2, equipped with more sensors and also designed for mixed reality uses (VR + AR by passthrough). It will oppose Apple’s offer head-on, but will still rely on an XR2 chip, much less powerful than the M1.
A long-awaited market entry
Apple has been working on an AR/VR headset since 2015, but is slow to release it. Delays that have not really hurt him so far, the market is just starting to take off. Its arrival is eagerly awaited by a part of the ecosystem, allergic to Meta for various reasons (mainly related to bad practices surrounding the social network Facebook). It remains to be seen whether they will appreciate the practices of Apple, which is not known for its flexibility in managing its ecosystem.