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Report: Apple Mixed Reality headset to feature Digital Crown, may require AirPods Pro 2 for audio

Updated Jan 6th, 2023 12:52PM EST
Apple mixed reality glasses render - side view.
Image: Ian Zelbo

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Apple is expected to introduce its Mixed Reality headset in 2023. While rumors have been a bit sparse in the past few months, a report by The Information (via 9to5Mac) shows a wave of new features coming to this device.

One of the most interesting features is an Apple Watch-like Digital Crown that will enable users to transition between the virtual and physical worlds. Apple’s Digital Crown is currently available on Apple Watch models and the AirPods Max.

This Mixed Reality headset is also rumored to feature Apple’s audio H2 chip, which is currently only available on the AirPods Pro 2. The Information says this processor has a “secret” low-latency transmission mode, which is designed to work alongside the H2 chip that will be available on the headset.

Even though the headset will have built-in speakers, the publication says, “Apple may require AirPods to be used when communicating with others,” as nearby bystanders can hear the audio. For privacy reasons, paired AirPods Pro 2 may be required. Other wireless headphones wouldn’t be compatible due to the lag between what users hear and what they see.

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

9to5Mac highlights one of the changes that this Mixed Reality headset will have due to development constraints:

A special alternate headband will be available for developers, likely allowing for the device to be hooked up to a Mac for development. However, The Information no longer expects Apple to promote freely-swappable headbands as a feature of the headset, a la easily interchangeable bands on the Apple Watch. Unlike Apple Watch bands, the headset headbands are more complicated as they contain electronic components and batteries. 

Apart from that, The Information corroborates previous reports that the Mixed Reality headset will feature 4K micro-LED displays for each eye, Apple’s M2 chip, and an expensive $3,000 cost due to its “ultra-premium components and chassis materials like aluminum, glass, and carbon fiber.” That said, this product will be “much thinner and lighter” than the just-released Meta Quest Pro.

The publication says Apple will focus the Mixed Reality headset mainly for videoconferencing with virtual conversations conducted with digital avatars, as the company doesn’t expect games to be a primary use case. Some teams at Apple are working on AR educational content and iPhone apps running in an overlaid 2D format.

You can find the full-paywalled report here.

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.