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Here’s how Apple’s Mixed Reality headset will work

Updated Jan 30th, 2023 12:57PM EST
Apple mixed reality glasses render - bottom view.
Image: Ian Zelbo

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With rumors about Apple entering a new business this year with a Mixed Reality headset, Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman gives us the best report yet on how this product will work.

According to him, the Mixed Reality headset, most likely called Reality Pro, will switch between AR and VR capabilities and feature an iOS-like interface.

Apple’s goal is to bring something new to the table. The eye- and hand-tracking capabilities will be a major selling point for the device, according to people familiar with the product, which is expected to cost roughly twice the price of rival devices. Its core features will include advanced FaceTime-based videoconferencing and meeting rooms.

The Mixed Reality headset will show immersive video content, work like an external display for a connected Mac, and even replicate functions of iPhone and iPad. Made with several external cameras, it will be able to analyze a user’s hands and sensors within the gadget’s housing to read eyes.

Users will be able to pinch their thumb and index finger together to activate a task without holding anything – different from other headsets that require a hand controller.

Apple’s Mixed Reality headset will have a Digital Crown, switching between VR and AR modes. FaceTime software, for example, will render a user’s face and full body in virtual reality in one-on-one chats. Additional users on a group call will appear as an icon or Memoji.

The headset’s operating system, internally called xrOS, will have many of the same features as an iPhone and iPad but in a 3D environment, including Safari, Photos, Mail, Messages, and Calendar app. Apple is also betting big on video content:

Immersive video watching will be a core feature of the new device. Apple has discussed developing VR content for the platform with about half a dozen media partners, including Walt Disney Co. and Dolby Laboratories Inc. And the tech giant is working to update its own Apple TV+ material to work with the headset. As part of the push, Apple bought streaming company NextVR in 2020, aiming to create sports content in VR.

Apple will use a variation of the M2 chip to power the Mixed Reality headset with a dedicated processor for graphics and mixed-reality experiences. According to the report, the headset can last about two hours per battery pack. “The battery, however, is large: roughly the size of two iPhone 14 Pro Maxes stacked on top of each other, or about 6 inches tall and more than half an inch thick. Still, some internal prototypes for software development have a built-in battery and charge over USB-C.”

Here’s what Apple’s Mixed Reality headset will look like

According to Gurman, the $3,000 Mixed Reality headset will be made from aluminum, glass, and cushions. It will have a curved screen on the front that can “outwardly show a wearer’s eye, with speakers on the sides and a headband that helps fit the device around a user’s head.”

The headset will have two ultra-high-resolution displays, as previously reported, to handle the VR. A collection of external cameras will enable an AR “pass-through mode.” Apple will even offer users with prescription glasses custom lenses that sit within the enclosure itself.

José Adorno Tech News Reporter

José is a Tech News Reporter at BGR. He has previously covered Apple and iPhone news for 9to5Mac, and was a producer and web editor for Latin America broadcaster TV Globo. He is based out of Brazil.