Apple’s next major product is just weeks away from launch – and an early review suggests it will live up to the hype.
Palmer Luckey, the 30-year-old American entrepreneur and founder of the Oculus VR platform, seems to have tried the device.
Luckey, who sold his company Oculus to Meta for $3bn (£2.4bn) in 2014 aged 21, simply said in a tweet on Sunday: “Apple headphones are so good. ”
Official details on Apple’s device are scarce, but it is believed to display notifications, messages, instructions and more in front of the wearer’s eyes.
It’s unclear how or where he was able to try out the device, although Luckey is a big name in the VR industry.
Luckey, who sold his company Oculus to Meta for $3 billion in 2014 when he was 21, simply said in a tweet: “Apple headphones are so good”
Palmer Luckey, 30 – who has earned a reputation for showing up to tech conferences wearing Hawaiian shirts and shorts – says Apple’s new device is “so good”
MailOnline has contacted the entrepreneur for more information.
Luckey, who started Oculus when he was only 15 years old, is a video game enthusiast and owner of a defense company called Anduril Industries, founded in 2017.
More recently, he designed a headset called NerveGear that “instantly destroys the brain” of the user when they die in a virtual game.
Luckily, Apple’s new headset – which should be called “Reality Pro” and be released later this year – won’t be quite as deadly.
Publicly, Apple has made no acknowledgment of the upcoming device, but its existence is an open secret within the tech industry.
An American backer called Mark Gurman, who has been dribbling about it in his weekly newsletter for months, said it could “replace the iPhone”.
Reality Pro will launch on Monday, June 5, the first day of Apple’s five-day Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Gurman claims.
Apple confirmed dates for WWDC in March but made no official mention of the headset in the announcement.
To be called “Reality Pro”, the headset will carry notifications, messages, directions and more from your iPhone to your eyes
A preview of the new helmet? A cryptic promotional image for this year’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) features curved colored lines
However, Apple’s promotional image for this year’s WWDC features curved colored lines that resemble the curved shape of headphones.
Apple headphones: Rumors
Release: September 2023
Type: Mixed reality
– A ‘top of the range’ similar to the M1 or M2
– A low-end to manage “sensor-related aspects”
Operating system: xrOS
Connectivity: WiFi 6E
Price: $3,000 (£2,400)
Reality Pro will hit stores in September, around the same time as the company’s next iPhone, Gurman said.
The headset will “start at around $3,000”, which is about twice as much as some of the most expensive smartphones on the market right now.
Reality Pro will overlay digital images onto a real environment – technology known as augmented reality (AR).
But it will also be virtual reality (VR) capable, meaning it will project fully virtual elements with no real background.
Augmented reality superimposes computer-generated images on top of an existing reality – Pokémon Go being a famous example – while virtual reality is entirely virtual and mixed reality (MR) combines the two.
Whether it’s notifications, messages or map routes, wearers will be able to walk down the street and constantly see their device’s interface in AR, without having to take their iPhone out of their pocket.
When the wearer is stationary, the device can be switched to VR, ideal for playing games, watching movies or having conversations with online avatars.
Palmer Luckey recently designed a headset called NerveGear, which “instantly destroys the brain” of the user when they die in a virtual game, thanks to three terrifying “explosive charge modules” that are pointed at the user’s skull. .
Reality Pro is expected to launch with its own operating system, xrOS, which will host familiar Apple apps including FaceTime, Messages and Maps.
Gurman believes the headset will launch with a new portal for watching sports in VR as part of Apple’s push towards live game and news streaming.
There will also be advanced video conferencing and virtual meeting rooms with realistic avatars, making users feel like they are interacting in one place.
According to another leaker, Ming-Chi Kuo, the Apple headset will be marketed as an iPhone accessory and the two will need to be linked.
Even so, the headset will contain sensors and its own processors – one “similar” to those used in its Mac and iPad computers, and another to handle “sensor-related aspects”.
It’s thought to work with the iPhone so that any alerts transmitted on the phone are displayed on the headset, but the new product will give Apple fans a whole new level of touchless immersion and control.
Rival tech companies like Meta, Samsung, and Microsoft have already launched AR or VR headsets, but Reality Pro should feel more like using a smartphone, except it’s above your eyes.
Rival tech companies such as Meta and Google have already launched AR or VR headsets, pictured is Meta’s Quest Pro VR headset
Last fall, Meta launched its $1,499 Meta Quest Pro VR mixed reality headset, which features new features meant to improve users’ perception of actually being in the presence of other people.
However, Meta Quest Pro VR is primarily aimed at professionals in creative fields, businesses, and enthusiasts, so it shouldn’t be a direct rival to Reality Pro.
Other big sellers in the space are the HTC Vive brand, owned by Taiwanese company HTC, Samsung Gear VR and Microsoft’s HoloLens mixed reality headset – but these are pretty chunky devices that are primarily targeted at gamers or professionals.
Why is Apple launching a mixed reality headset?
Apple has long been rumored to be developing an AR wearable; the tech giant filed a patent in 2019 that gives a glimpse of what it could develop behind closed doors.
But work on the helmet has been going on for almost a decade.
According to Gurman, Reality Pro could be the next major platform beyond the iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch, which first launched in 2015.
Mark Gurman called the June 5 launch “one of the most critical events in the company’s history” and an opportunity “to herald a post-iPhone era.”
With Reality Pro, Apple is “preparing for a future beyond iPhone and iPad” – but executives are “clear about Apple’s challenges in entering this new market”.
While Gurman thinks the first release will be a “dud” in terms of sales compared to the company’s existing hardware, future releases will likely do better as the product finds its footing.
For now, Apple will have to explain to consumers why they would want such a device and how it’s an improvement over the iPhone and iPad.
Paolo Pescatore, analyst at PP Foresight, said the device will appeal to loyal fans and those who want “an immersive experience in areas such as gaming and live events”.
Apple has long been rumored to be developing an AR wearable. The tech giant filed a patent in 2019 (pictured) which gives a glimpse of what it could develop behind closed doors
But among the general public, adoption and awareness of AR and VR technologies “remain lackluster” and could hamper sales of the headset.
“The device will provide a much-needed boost and rekindle interest in the virtual and augmented reality market,” Pescatore told MailOnline.
“At the end of the day, this is still in its infancy and still has a long way to go before it becomes mass market and widely accepted.”
“People aren’t rushing out of their seats to buy a VR headset or even watch 360-degree videos.”
Pescatore also said Apple “can’t rely on the iPhone alone forever” given intense competition from rival companies in new product categories such as foldable devices.
“The company has focused on the iPhone as a gateway to the Apple universe,” he said. “That might suggest he’s behind on the new hardware.”