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Apple VR headset revealed in new report — but there's bad news for Apple Glass

(Image credit: Martin Hajek/iDropnews)
  • Bloomberg reports internal differences in the company's Technology Development Group (TDG) have altered its course to release a VR headset.
  • The Apple VR headset is the works with advanced features and ultra-high-resolution screens, after debates between departed design chief Jony Ive and project exec Mike Rockwell settled.
  • We could see the VR headset as soon as 2022, but Apple Glass isn't coming until 2023 "at the earliest" as previously rumored.

An Apple VR headset with advanced features and ultra-high-resolution screens is under development in Cupertino. However, this headset, as well as the the company's rumored Apple Glasses, will launch later than once anticipated according to a new report.

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman provided an update on Apple's publicly known mission to create dedicated AR/VR devices that are mature enough to finally sell masses on the technology. Though some leaks suggested a pair of sleek AR glasses could debut as soon as next year, Gurman said internal differences in the company's Technology Development Group (TDG) have altered its plans.

The disputes date back to 2018 when Jony Ive, Apple's infamous design chief who has since left the company, opposed "fundamental aspects" of the VR headset and pushed for an alternative approach several years into development. 

Mike Rockwell, the Apple exec who leads the TDG's VR/AR efforts, proposed slimming down the headset with a separate, stationary hub that could carry out powerful computing and transport users into a totally virtual world. 

Ive wasn't impressed by Rockwell's plans, and urged the TDG to return to the drawing board to develop a hub-less VR headset. He worried about it being too powerful, and didn't want the company marketing a device that disconnects users from reality. An inside source told Gurman that Ive favored mixed reality initiatives, which facilitate boundaries for the virtual world and real one.

Rockwell resisted, insisting the hub would give Apple a clear edge over Facebook's Oculus Quest, which is widely considered the top offering among the best VR headsets. However, according to Gurman, Tim Cook sided with the Ive and changed the course of Apple's VR/AR hardware, even with Oculus Quest 2 on the horizon.

Apple VR headset is 'pretty advanced'

The Apple VR headset might not be as powerful as Rockwell initially planned, but Gurman said it's still "pretty advanced." It sports ultra-high-resolution screens and a cinematic speaker system that should enable realistic visual experiences, according to people who have seen prototypes. 

Those sources also said the headset looks like a slimmer, fabric-swathed, Oculus Quest, but the design isn't final as the company continues testing to determine the ideal fit for most head shapes.

It also hasn't decided on a price, though we don't expect it to be cheap. The Quest starts at $399, while HTC's Vive costs $799 and Microsoft's HoloLens 2 is a whopping $3,500.

Like its competitors, the Apple VR headset will reportedly benefit from its own App Store, where users can access gaming, video streaming and communications software. Voice assistant Siri will be tasked with controlling the headset, though a physical remote is reportedly being tested, too.

As for a potential release date, the VR headset is on pace to debut next year and be released in 2022.

Apple Glass will arrive 2023 'at the earliest'

Apple Glass has been the subject of many leaks in recent months, but Gurman proposes much of what we've heard so far — specifically regarding release — is false. He debated Front Page Tech host Jon Prosser on Twitter, who released a video in May spilling alleged Apple Glass intel and proposing a possible 2021 announcement. 

Prosser has established a fairly accurate track record for Apple leaks, but so has Gurman. We're inclined to believe Gurman simply based on how advanced a pair of AR glasses will need to be in order to sell. He says Apple Glass will arrive in 2023 at the earliest. 

If you're interested in learning more about the inner workings of Apple, take a look at the Bloomberg report. It provides a timeline tracing Apple's VR/AR acquisitions, as well as brief resumes for the team now working under Rockwell's direction.