The FaceTime software in Apple’s headset “realistically renders the user’s full face and body in the virtual reality world.” These avatars allow two users (each with an Apple headset) to communicate with each other and feel like they are sitting in the same room. Currently, Meta has a similar feature, but it creates a very low-quality cartoon avatar on Meta headsets.
High-quality avatar rendering requires very high processing power from users, so the Apple headset will only support realistic avatars in two-person chats. The headset allows FaceTime sessions with multiple people, but additional users will be displayed as an icon or a Mimoji. Mimoji is Apple’s custom emoji.
Informed sources say Apple’s mixed reality headset will be unveiled “next spring,” but the launch date is still open to change. A spring unveiling will allow Apple to talk about the headset in more detail during its Worldwide Developers Conference in June. This headset will be released before the end of 2023.
Apple, like its other bets, plans to slowly enter the field of mixed reality. According to Garmin, initial production of Apple’s mixed reality headset will begin in China next month. At first, Apple will launch its headset only in the American market.
The $3,000 price will have a significant impact on Apple’s headset sales. Apple is already working on a cheaper model of its headset, which will cost around $1,500 and will be launched in late 2024 or early 2025. That price tag makes Apple’s new headset a more direct competitor to the Meta mixed reality headset.
Apple expects to sell about 1 million units of its first headset within a year. iPhone sales, Apple’s biggest source of money, reached a record of more than 200 million units in the first year. In an unexpected move, Apple has no plans to make a profit from the initial version of the mixed reality headset, even though the headset in question carries a price tag of $3,000. This shows that Apple is looking for long-term success.
Watching immersive videos will be one of the most important features of Apple’s mixed reality headset. Apple has negotiated with companies such as Disney to produce virtual reality content for its headset, and plans to update the contents of the Apple TV Plus service to be compatible with the headset. In 2020, Apple acquired NextVR to use the expertise of its engineers to create virtual reality sports content.
Apple’s mixed reality headset will have an independent ability to watch videos “that will give the user the feeling of watching a movie on a giant screen somewhere else, like the desert or space.” The Apple headset will not have powerful speakers, so users will be advised to put AirPods in their ears to achieve surround sound.