Hype is a tricky animal; it so often builds things up only to let them down with a heavy hit. And recent Apple events have encapsulated this to a large extent. Many times we have waited for the start of an iPhone with USB-C and no notch just to get such iPhone 13 with Lightning port and slightly smaller notch. And don’t forget the long rumor that never came to light AirPods Pro 2.
With WWDC 2022a Apple VR/AR Headset was not tapped for a reveal, but perhaps for a tease. And with realityOS Apple is reportedly looking for a brandthe hype machine kicked into action, seemingly increasing the expectation that Apple would be speaking about augmented and virtual reality at its developer-centric event.
Or maybe we’d at least get a little taste of the OS, or what Apple is doing with developers on the AR front.
That didn’t happen.
This year’s WWDC was no disappointment macOS Ventura promises a lot of upgrades and potential Mac machines that are actually good for gamingthe new Macbook Air 2022a refreshed 13-inch MacBook Pro 2022the Apple M2 chip, watchOS 9, iOS 16 and more. But there was no mention of AR or VR.
WWDC 2022: Absent AR
In fact, Apple hasn’t even labeled AR or VR capabilities in its developer tools or updated software platforms. About as close as the Cupertino crew got to AR/VR with the an updated version of CarPlay that deeply integrates into vehicle systems; it looked cool, but it’s not coming until late 2023.
Speaking of some time, that’s basically what WWDC told us about Apple’s AR and VR hardware and software ambitions – it probably won’t be coming any time soon.
The rumors have twisted and turned on the predicted release dates for an Apple headset, but the latest tidbit has done the Apple AR/VR headset to be unveiled in early 2023 by reasonably reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. However, I won’t buy this for a number of reasons.
First off, although Apple is known to be very secretive, information is still leaking out. Not all of this is accurate, but it often gives us a good idea of what to expect from Apple’s upcoming products – this hasn’t been the case with the Apple AR/VR headset or the company’s other face-based wearables. If a product were to be unveiled early next year I think we’d have some leaked information or better renders based on tidbits from supply chain sources.
Add to the mix the lack of any mention of AR/VR software tools in iOS 16, iPad OS 16 or macOS Ventura, and I have a feeling developers won’t be willing to build enough apps to form the software ecosystems that Apple tends to have when launching new products.
While VR isn’t a super obscure technology category, it’s still a niche offering. Sure the Oculus Quest 2 is perhaps one of the most accessible virtual reality experiences, surpassing ours Best VR Headset list, but it’s far from perfect and only for VR. Augmented reality is suitable, for example, for head-up displays in modern cars or for games Pokemon Go. But I haven’t seen many people wearing AR glasses on the go, even those that are accessible snap glasses.
Apple AR/VR headset: What’s the rush?
Given that and how Apple tends to enter markets when tech adoption or appetite is at its peak, and said tech is mature enough to deliver very immersive experiences (VR still makes people sick), guess I think 2023 is way too early Apple is releasing an AR/VR headset.
Now. Apple’s AR/VR efforts might actually be a very well-kept secret, with only a handful of developers quietly building a software platform and ecosystem for an augmented or virtual reality headset. And I hope that’s the case, because it’s been a while since Apple has really surprised tech fans with something that feels genuinely new.
But ultimately I want whatever AR or VR thing Apple is working on to arrive when it’s done; By that I mean it’s polished to a fine finish. Apple has done this many times for other technologies; For example, it was too late for the high refresh rate display, but with the iPhone 13 prosuppose Apple LTPO tech and delivered a beautiful display that feels super smooth but doesn’t sacrifice battery life.
If Apple’s attention to detail and product craftsmanship can be applied to AR and VR technology, we could finally see devices that take augmented and virtual reality devices out of their niche and into the true mainstream. It may be years before it happens, but I’m willing to wait.