Apple WWDC: mixed reality headset among the announcements expected at the tech giant’s event | Science and technology news
Apple is expected to unveil a mixed reality headset at its annual event for developers — its first all-new product in eight years.
The tech giant’s WWDC showcase is usually reserved for software reveals — particularly the next big updates to its iPhones, iPads, and Macs — but fresh hardware is planned for this year.
A Apple The headset has long been rumored, and reports say the company will finally unveil its first foray into an increasingly crowded field during Monday’s event.
It would be the company’s first entirely new product since the launch of the Apple Watch in 2015.
Wait a minute, what is mixed reality?
You have probably come into contact with virtual and augmented reality in the last few years and have probably even tried them.
Virtual reality is about putting you in an all-digital world, cutting you off from the outside world and putting everything from your living room shelves to your pet cat at risk.
It’s been a big year for these kind of headsets – The PlayStation VR2 was released in Februarywhile Meta has announced that Quest 3 will be released this fall. Both are gaming focused and cost around £500.
Instead, augmented reality brings digital elements into the real world – you’re constantly playing around with it on your phone, for example via the Ikea app, Snapchat filters and Pokemon Go.
Try Sky News augmented reality:
Decorate your home with festive fun
Place the king’s coronation crown in your living room
Mixed Reality takes this concept further – rather than just layering fancy digital furniture and pocket monsters over your surroundings, the idea is for you to interact with them as if they were actually there.
For example, imagine you are working on a virtual sculpture at your real desk, or a trainee surgeon is performing a complex operation on a digital patient.
It sounds expensive…
Mixed reality has already proved an expensive proposition – Meta’s premium Quest Pro headset, geared more towards industry and education than entertainment, was launched last October for £1,499.
After a poor critical reception and disappointing sales, Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse pitch failed to move both customers and investorssince then the price has dropped to a whopping £999.
Apple has never been afraid of a steep price tag, and its headset will reportedly cost as much as $3,000 (£2,409), well above the entry price of its phones, tablets and computers.
Given that and the announcement at WWDC, it will likely be aimed at professionals and developers first, rather than the average customer.
What does Apple’s headset offer?
Bloomberg reports that communication and productivity will be among the main use cases for the headset, citing a person who worked on the device as saying it is a “status symbol” product.
It’s said to have 4K resolution imagery, full-body motion tracking, a half-dozen cameras for viewing the outside world, and the same powerful M2 chips found in the Macs.
The headset is also expected to have its own operating system, so you’ll be able to navigate using gestures and your voice rather than a customized version of a familiar iPhone or Mac interface.
And just like Apple’s devices have separate app stores, the headset has its own app store with bespoke versions of the software you’ve come to expect from the iPhone. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that we’ll also get terrifying full versions of our Memoji avatars.
According to Bloomberg, Apple will release the headset – tentatively dubbed Reality Pro – in late 2023 or early 2024.
What else can we expect from the event?
WWDC will continue to devote significant time to existing products.
This year’s major iPhone update, iOS 17, will arrive in time for the next mobile phone in September.
We already know about some of the upcoming new features, most notably an accessibility option that will allow users to create one artificial voice that sounds just like her.
It is aimed at people who suffer from medical conditions that may cause them to be unable to speak in the future.
The biggest new software feature rumored to be a landscape mode for charging your iPhone, which would essentially turn it into a smart display, similar to Google’s new Pixel tablet. For example, it could show calendar appointments at a glance rather than just notifications or the time.
iPhone software updates are often mirrored on the iPad, so the same functionality may be available there as well.
Macs and the Apple Watch are also likely to draw attention – there are rumors that widgets, which have cluttered up the iPhone and iPad’s home screens in recent years, could also make their way to the latter.
There is also talk of a new MacBook Air, with a larger size of 15 inches.
We won’t have to wait long to find out – WWDC 2023 starts at 6pm UK time on Monday.