Here's How Apple Reportedly Plans To Make Its $3,000 Mixed-Reality Headset A Hit

Apple has been rumored to launch a mixed-reality headset since it acquired the Montreal, Canada-based startup Vrvana over four years ago. These expectations have been floated by a flurry of industry reports and patent applications. But unlike the AirPower — another one of Apple's outlandishly rumored gadgets — the mixed reality headset is close to a final reveal at the upcoming WWDC 2023 developers conference in June. 

Ahead of the unveiling, a report now claims that Apple is looking beyond entertainment and wants to target fitness and collaborative experiences with the new product category. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman states Apple's approach pivots around an inclusive experience with software and services, just like its other devices, to justify the high $3,000 price tag. The company is reportedly building a suite of applications spanning categories such as collaborative productivity, fitness, meditation, gaming, and sports viewing. In addition, Apple is said to be looking to adapt iPad apps to the tiny screen that sits in front of the consumers' eyes.

Immersive sports and entertainment among core features

The road to Apple's mixed-reality headset success is filled with more obstructions than any other device it has sold in the recent past. This is because the average consumer has shied from cumbersome and expensive AR and VR headsets, leading these devices to remain experiential accessories for a small niche.

One of the reasons is lackluster support for apps on platforms that extend virtual reality. As per the report, Apple strongly depends on app developers to add support for the platform, and wooing them is expected to be a crucial focus for this year's WWDC conference, which is scheduled for June 5. The company is likely already working with a small group of developers to adapt their apps for the mixed-reality platform.

Apple is also looking to reap benefits from acquiring immersive sports broadcast startup, NextVR. Before being acquired by Apple, the company already had over a decade of experience serving sports- and entertainment-centric VR content to prominent platforms, including Sony's PlayStation VR, Meta's Oculus, HTC Vive, and similar platforms. Apple now looks to merge offerings from Apple TV with NextVR's prowess to make the headset appealing, at least according to the leak.

Mixed reality for work and play

Besides entertainment, Apple is reportedly opening its suite of work-related apps, such as Pages, Numbers, Keynote, and Freeform, to the mixed-reality interface. In addition, popular apps such as Garage Band and iMovie will also find a home on the platform.

Gaming will likely be one of the key focus areas for the mixed-reality platform. Besides that, Apple could offer a version of its Fitness+ service optimized for the immersive experience, including a virtual trainer, while a soothing audio-visual experience will enable immersive meditations. A custom version of Apple Books will also allow users to read while being geared up with the headset.

Previously,  a report also suggested that the headset will have an iPadOS-like interface and be able to switch between augmented and virtual realities. It will reportedly even be able to extend Mac's display right in front of a user's eyes and offer an immersive video calling experience with FaceTime, presenting the other person's 3D virtual avatar in the form of a virtual meeting area. This may finally be a meaningful utility for Memoji.

An integrated system to replace other devices

In terms of hardware, Apple is looking to add cameras that will allow users to take pictures and videos using the mixed-reality headset, the report claims. Users will have the option to engage with the interface using hand gestures and eye movements. With precise eye tracking, the headset will be able to determine what users are looking at. Meanwhile, they will supposedly also be able to "pinch their fingers" to make selections and steer through the menu. But for a tactile sense, the headset will potentially come with a rotating dial similar to the Apple Watch's crown button.

For text-based input, the headset will also offer a mid-air keyboard. At the same time, users will be able to hook up a physical keyboard for a more familiar and engaging experience. Apple is reportedly looking to add biometric authentication through iris scanning. The mixed-reality headset is part of Apple's vision for an integrated environment to replace all other devices. However, that may be a sight from the farther future, and Apple may still need to go over a couple of iterations before it can finally replace the bulky hardware with something lightweight and more affordable

Apple CEO Tim Cook has been fixated on launching the mixed-reality headset in 2023, despite alleged internal concerns about it not being ready. Whether it adds to Cook's legacy as an Apple product worth remembering for years or transpires into another hardware fiasco is something we will know when it is available later in 2023, assuming there aren't any additional delays.