Apple's WWDC May Reveal Key Tools For AR/VR Headsets

Apple's annual conference for developers is just around the corner, and while there have been plenty of rumors about what to expect, the company always manages to surprise us at the last minute. There might be new colors for the new MacBook Air, or there might just be new shades of the same hues instead. There may also be clues about the next iPhone's switch from the front notch to the pill, but most of the focus will really be on iOS 16. What sources seem to agree on is that Apple's much anticipated AR and VR headset will still be a no-show this year. That doesn't mean, however, that it won't have anything to reassure developers and stakeholders that it hasn't dropped the ball on the technology it has been praising for years.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has been repeatedly quoted talking favorably about augmented reality, especially as opposed to virtual reality, as the next big thing in computing (via Inc). It has even started integrating AR technologies into its existing platforms, particularly through its ARKit framework. By now, it is no longer a secret that the company is developing its own mixed reality headset, but the date of its debut seems to slip year after year — and it seems it still won't happen this year, or at least not at WWDC 2022.

Part of the reason for the delay is likely Apple's notorious eye for detail, so anything less than perfect just won't do. There are, however, also rumors of infighting within Apple's AR team, particularly when it comes to the ethical implications of such a technology, especially in changing social practices.

Augmented reality at Apple's WWDC

Even if the headset is still MIA in these coming days, that doesn't mean Apple will stay completely quiet on AR matters. According to the New York Times, Apple will unveil new tools that will pave the road toward the headset's arrival. This developer kit will allow developers to prepare their apps with functionality that will enable them to work in AR environments, even if Apple's formal AR platform still isn't available yet.

Those tools reportedly include adding new camera and voice functionality like being able to trigger actions by voice through Siri or by scanning QR codes, opening the door to hands-free use of those apps. Of course, that will translate perfectly into the AR world, where one doesn't enjoy the same convenience of tapping at things on a screen. There is even less information about Apple's preferred way to move around the AR world than there is about its headset.

Despite the absence of the hardware, it's hard to deny that Apple is going all out on AR. It has been slowly but surely introducing its users to the use of the technology through what seems like mundane and whimsical features. It has also reportedly enlisted the help of actor Jon Favreau, executive producer of the Apple TV+ exclusive "Prehistoric Planet" as well as many of Marvel's films, to create content for this upcoming hardware. In typical Apple fashion, the company is taking its sweet time to lay the foundations and then make a big bang that will shock the world, both in good and bad ways, when it finally launches.