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Apple’s mixed reality headset rumored to shun the metaverse — here’s why

apple mixed-reality headset design
(Image credit: Future)

If you’ve had even a passing interest in virtual reality-centric news the past few months, you’ll probably have heard the term “metaverse” thrown around. It sounds like a buzzword, but one that has some of the biggest tech companies involved — most notably Facebook, which rebranded to Meta as a result.

But if this latest rumor is to be believed, Apple might not be one of them. While the company is rumored to have its first mixed reality headset coming later this year, it won’t be jumping on the metaverse bandwagon according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman.

Gurman brought up the topic in the latest edition of his ‘Power On (opens in new tab)’ newsletter, and claims that the metaverse is “off limits” inside Apple. The metaverse is intended for long-term use, by taking real world experiences and translating them into virtual reality — much like every pop-culture representation of VR for the past few decades, 

But Gurman claims Apple’s goal is to offer shorter experiences, focusing on brief periods of communication, content viewing and gaming. 

However this ambition may be hampered by the headset's battery life, with Ming Chi-Kuo predicting that the headset will have a 96W MacBook charger. You don't offer such a powerful charger when it's unnecessary, and suggests the headsets CPU and GPUI will need a lot of power to operate.

It would be a huge boon for the metaverse if Apple were to get on board. Despite being around for close to a decade now, modern VR has still struggled to appeal to mainstream audiences. Devices like the Oculus Quest 2 have done a lot to get VR in peoples' hands, but those headsets are far from ubiquitous right now.

Whether Apple’s headset will boost VR’s profile with the general population isn’t clear. For starters, we’re not even sure if the headset is being designed as a consumer-centric product. 

Early reports claimed that the headset is meant to be a precursor to augmented reality Apple Glasses, giving app developers time to become accustomed to working for AR. That way the Apple Glasses will have a better selection of apps at launch, and won’t be dead on arrival.

Pricing rumors have been all over the place, and figures ranging as high as $3,000 have been suggested. Granted we haven’t heard anything for a while, but that would firmly put it out of the price range of most ordinary people. 

Still, when Apple gets involved in something people generally take notice, There’s a reason why the likes of the iPad and Apple Watch are still significantly more popular than rival devices. Apple products are usually high quality, and the brand recognition can help catch peoples’ initial interest.

However, it would appear that while Apple's involvement may be a boon for VR in general, the metaverse apparently won’t be so lucky.

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.