The rumored Apple AR headset could arrive as early as next April, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
"We predict that Apple will launch AR HMD [head-mounted display] devices in 2Q22. The device will provide a video see-through AR experience, so the lens is also needed, and Genius is also a key supplier," Kuo explained in his new research note, as reported by MacRumors (opens in new tab).
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Genius Electronic Optical is a key supplier of iPhone 12 camera lenses, so it wouldn't be a huge surprise that the company is supplying Apple with lenses for a AR headset.
Apple's VR headset was originally rumored to be named as a "mixed-reality" device that would launch in 2021 or 2022. Back in January, Kuo predicted (opens in new tab) that the announcement of the Apple AR headset would come sometime this year. However, that has evidently changed with Kuo's research report predicting the launch in the second quarter of next year.
Kuo then stated that the Apple AR headset would arrive "mid-2022," which corresponds to his latest report, seeing as the second quarter of the year covers a period from April to June.
Bloomberg's Mark Gurman (opens in new tab) reported back in March that the release date for Apple's first mixed reality headset would come in the "next several months." However, we would be surprised if anything launched this year.
The next major Apple event is expected to take place in September for the likely reveal of the iPhone 13 lineup. Going by Kuo's report, we'd not expect the Apple AR headset to be revealed then.
MacRumors also reported that if and when the Apple AR headset is announced, there might be a much bigger gap between its reveal and release than usual, seeing as the whole virtual reality business is an entirely new area for Apple. Doing this would give Apple time to get developers on board to make AR apps designed specifically for its headset.
Apple's rumored AR/VR headset could also reportedly be an expensive piece of tech — potentially costing $1,000 or more. But that's because it'll reportedly be targeted mainly at developers rather than an average consumer, much like Microsoft's HoloLens 2 AR headset.
If that is indeed the case, then there's a chance that the Apple VR headset will be used as a development platform for Apple to test the waters for the much-rumored Apple Glasses. The AR headset could be used to gauge the specific hardware configuration needed to make consumer AR glasses a viable proposition, while having developers onboard early could mean a healthy app ecosystem, if an when the Apple Glasses arrive.
Time will tell if this prediction comes to fruition, But going by the leaks and rumors so far, it looks like AR will play a big part in Apple's future hardware. In the meantime, check out our picks for the best AR apps you can try right now.