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Apple AR Glasses headset coming next year, insiders say

Published Nov 3rd, 2021 11:18AM EDT
MacBook Pro on a table
Image: Apple

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Several reports said earlier this year that Apple is developing two different headsets for the coming years. The wearables will support immersive augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) experiences, better than what’s available on iPhone and iPad.

These so-called Apple Glasses will feature high-end hardware, and they might be more expensive than what the competition has to offer. Apple is reportedly developing a mixed reality (MR) headset to support AR and VR experiences. And this is the first such Apple-made device to hit stores. But Apple is also working on a more sophisticated pair of AR glasses that look just like prescription glasses. These will launch a few years down the road.

Two insiders who have written extensively on purported Apple Glasses plans in the past are back with new details about the first-gen device. The MR headset will reportedly launch next year, and it’ll be pricey.

Apple Glasses to get fast Wi-Fi 6E connectivity

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is one of the Apple insiders who has an excellent track record reporting on unreleased devices. Kuo also happens to have penned several research notes to investors covering Apple’s smart glasses. In a new document that 9to5Mac obtained, the analyst says that one of the biggest issues with MR devices represents connectivity.

The headsets require a wired connection to a computer for the best experiences. Apple wants the glasses to offer a wireless experience. That’s why it’s adding Wi-Fi 6/6E support to the MR glasses. The protocol ensures faster speeds and higher bandwidth, the kind that can support AR and VR experiences.

Apple isn’t the only one to add Wi-Fi 6 to its headsets. Facebook’s Oculus Quest already supports Wi-Fi 6. The latest wireless standard supports video streaming at 120Hz. That’s probably the kind of experience Apple is also going for when it comes to the mixed reality headset.

Kuo also added that other players in the field will introduce AR/VR devices in 2022 with Wi-Fi 6/6E support next year. Adding 5G mmWave for mixed-reality headsets could further improve wireless connectivity.

It’s going to be an expensive MR experience

He didn’t provide any price points. But previous reports said Apple’s high-end MR glasses might retail around $3,000.

Gurman also said Apple’s MR glasses will deliver both AR content and high-end gaming experiences:

Apple’s first headset will be of the mixed reality variety. That means it will have both AR and VR capabilities. While gaming can be done in both environments, virtual reality is what you want for seriously high-performance games with top-tier graphics. For Apple’s first headset, that’s what it’s shooting for: a mixed reality experience that can handle games in high-quality virtual reality with snappy chips and high-end displays.

The gaming claim is undoubtedly attractive, given all the criticism Apple gets for its MacBooks’ lack of proper gaming support.

Apple just unveiled the powerful M1 Pro and M1 Max processors for the 2021 MacBook Pro series. They can support high-end gaming in addition to intensive workloads that professionals in various fields might require. The new hardware might convince more developers to port their games to macOS. Processors like the M1 will be crucial for the Apple Glasses’ success when it comes to gaming.

When will Apple glasses be released with AR?

Mark Gurman explained in his latest newsletter edition on Bloomberg that Apple will launch the mixed reality glasses next year:

Apple is planning to unleash its own pricey device with advanced chips, displays, sensor, and avatar-based features as early as next year.

Finally, Gurman said that “years down the road, you’ll see a true AR-only headset.”

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.