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First Apple mixed reality headset to offer VR gaming, media, and communication

Published Dec 6th, 2021 7:31AM EST

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You don’t need leaks about Apple’s imminent mixed reality headset to guess one of the device’s main features. Like any gadget offering virtual reality (VR) features, gaming could easily be the main focus. The same goes for VR headsets from HTC, Sony, and Facebook. But you don’t necessarily associate Apple with high-end gaming. That’s because not all of Apple’s devices offer access to high-end gaming, even though the hardware supports it. The new MacBooks are the best example of that. They offer PS5-grade performance, but they lack the games to turn them into gaming PCs.

That said, a well-connected insider says that gaming will be a significant focus for the first-gen Apple mixed reality headset. The others are content consumption and communication.

The so-called Apple Glasses appeared in all sorts of rumors all year long. We’re looking at two types of devices that populate these leaks. One is the mixed reality device that’s supposed to come next year. The wearable gadget will look a lot like the VR headsets from rivals. But it will also offer augmented reality (AR) features alongside VR. Hence the mixed reality designation. The second is a true AR-only gadget that will look a lot like regular glasses.

Previous reports indicated the head-worn gadget will feature high-end specs. We’re looking at 4K micro-LED displays, 15 cameras including sensors for eye-tracking functionality, Wi-Fi 6E connectivity, and powerful processors.

The high-end specs suggest the first-gen Apple mixed reality headset will be an expensive addition to the line-up of Apple devices. And some reports did say that the gadget will indeed be pricier than other models.

The Apple mixed reality headset’s main features

Despite the powerful specs, however, the mixed reality device might still need a connection to an iPhone or MacBook — that’s where Wi-Fi 6E might come in handy.

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman detailed the expected use cases for the new Apple device in his Power On newsletter. The insider said that the Apple mixed reality headset will have three “killer” features. That’s gaming, media consumption, and communication:

Gaming should be a strong focus of the machine, especially given that it will have multiple processors, a fan, extremely high resolution displays and its own App Store. Look for Apple to position the device as a dream for game developers. Next, media consumption. I expect Apple to work with media partners to create content that can be watched in VR on the device. Third, communications. Look for Animojis and a VR FaceTime-like experience to be the new-age Zoom.

From the sounds of it, Apple’s first mixed reality device could very well help the company launch its own metaverse.

There’s no question that AR is a crucial technology for Apple. Several years ago, the company introduced AR support in iOS for iPhone and iPad. And it’s been advancing its AR interests little by little in preparation for what true AR can be with the help of a dedicated headset.

But Apple is yet to deliver any VR content whatsoever. That’s because you can’t do VR without a headset. That’s where the mixed reality device would come in handy.

When will it launch?

A separate report from Gurman said a few days ago that Apple will unveil the mixed reality device several months before launching it in stores. That’s because Apple will need time to market the handset and work with developers to prepare mixed reality experiences for consumers.

That said, we’re only looking at speculation for the time being. It’ll be a while until we get to see the device in stores. MacRumors points out a different insider’s report on the gadget. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that Apple will begin mass-production in the second quarter of 2022, with a launch set for the fourth quarter.

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.