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Apple insider says AR/VR headset won’t launch at WWDC, release coming next year

Updated May 31st, 2022 9:47AM EDT
Apple mixed reality glasses render - bottom view.
Image: Ian Zelbo

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Apple’s mixed reality headset has appeared in various leaks and rumors in the past few years. We think we know what it’ll look like and what it’ll have to offer in terms of specs and features. But some of these reports also highlighted the various issues Apple has been dealing with over the years, and the inevitable delays. While a recent trademark might have suggested that Apple is ready to launch the mixed reality headset at WWDC in a few days, that won’t be the case.

A well-known leaker says that Apple is unlikely to unveil its first smart glasses at the show, echoing recent reports from other insiders. However, the mixed reality glasses will get a 2023 release.

realityOS is the purported name of the operating system that will power Apple’s augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) experiences. The first-gen smart glasses will be a mixed reality (MR) or extended reality (XR) device, as it’ll combine AR and VR features.

The emphasis seems to be on VR, considering that we’re not looking at a glasses-like device. Instead, Apple is going for a design similar to what’s available from VR-only gaming solutions from companies like HTC, Meta, and Sony.

What is realityOS and what does it mean for WWDC 2022?

Apple never confirmed the realityOS moniker, but it certainly falls in line with Apple’s OS naming scheme: iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, tvOS, and macOS. But, over the weekend, reports emerged that Apple filed a trademark for realityOS via one of its shell companies.

This seemed to imply that Apple is preparing for the launch of the mixed reality headset. Or that it will hold some sort of realityOS demo/introduction at WWDC 2022 next Monday.

Apple mixed reality glasses render - side view.
Apple mixed reality glasses render – side view. Image source: Ian Zelbo

Considering the way Apple has introduced brand new products before, it makes sense for Apple to launch the mixed reality headset several months before the start of sales. That would give the company time to ramp up its marketing campaign. More importantly, developers would have time to adapt their apps to realityOS experiences. Or create new content for the smart glasses.

But Apple doesn’t have to unveil the handset at WWDC next week.

As news of the realityOS trademark emerged, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman penned a report detailing his expectations for the show. He said that Apple’s mixed reality headset is full steam ahead, reminding us that the Apple board got a presentation.

That’s a big milestone in the development stage of an unreleased product. But, even so, Gurman says he’s “wary of expecting a full-blown presentation for developers and consumers next week.”

Apple’s mixed reality headset launch

Echoing Gurman’s sentiments is Ming-Chi Kuo, a well-known insider who has been accurate about Apple’s unreleased devices. The analyst took to Twitter to address Apple’s mixed reality headset. He said that Apple isn’t likely to launch the glasses at WWDC next week as the device isn’t ready for mass production.

Not only that, but Apple won’t even show realityOS at the event, Kuo speculated. “Apple’s competitors worldwide can’t wait to see the hardware spec and OS design for Apple’s AR/MR headset,” he said. That’s the reason why Apple would want to unveil the device so soon.

Apple mixed reality glasses render - front view.
Apple mixed reality glasses render – front view. Image source: Ian Zelbo

Kuo further added that competitors will “immediately kick off copycat projects and happily copy Apple’s excellent ideas, and hit the store shelves before Apple launches in 2023.”

Kuo’s take isn’t off. He might be speculating, but that doesn’t change the fact that many companies look up to Apple for inspiration. Whether it’s iPhone-related decisions or other devices. Apple will not be the first company to launch a mixed reality headset. But its approach might force competitors to rethink their own VR and AR gadgets.

Kuo still expects the mixed reality headset to be released in 2023. If that’s the case, then Apple will probably hold a launch event for the glasses several months before sales start.

More Apple coverage: For more Apple news, visit our iPhone 14 guide.

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.