Apple is set to unveil its much-anticipated AR/VR “mixed” reality headset at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June. To ensure a successful launch and encourage user adoption, the company is reportedly working on dedicated sports, gaming, wellness, and collaboration apps, according to Bloomberg.
Apple plans to adapt iPad apps for the headset, allowing users to access existing App Store content through the device’s 3D interface. Core Apple-designed apps, such as Safari, Calendar, Contacts, Home, Files, Messages, Notes, Photos, Music, and Reminders, will be optimized for the headset. The device will support running multiple apps simultaneously and include a geolocation feature to swap between apps when users are in different rooms.
A Fitness+ app will offer immersive exercise experiences with Fitness+ instructors in a virtual reality setting. The Health app will guide users through meditation using graphics, sounds, and voice-overs. Apple is also pushing deeper into sports, with a focus on providing immersive viewing experiences for Major League Baseball (MLB) and Major League Soccer (MLS) content, along with a dedicated TV app for watching videos in virtual reality environments.
The headset will feature a dedicated FaceTime experience using Memoji-like avatars and virtual meeting rooms. Apple is also developing a Books app for reading in virtual reality, a Camera app to capture images using the headset’s cameras, and a 3D interface adaptation of Freeform for collaborative projects.
Apple has been collaborating with select gaming developers to update their existing content for mixed reality and plans to offer a comprehensive set of tools for creating AR/VR experiences.
The AR/VR headset is expected to be priced around $3,000, and Apple is not anticipating high sales initially. The company expects to sell approximately one million units in the first year, which is relatively low for an Apple device.
Some Apple employees have expressed concerns about the headset’s usefulness, considering its price point. They question whether the device is a “solution in search of a problem” and lacks the clarity of other Apple devices.
Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes the AR/VR headset is the “last hope” for convincing investors that AR/VR devices can become the “next star product in consumer electronics.” Competing devices from companies like Meta have struggled with a lack of appealing software, and overcoming this hurdle is crucial for Apple.
To drive adoption of the mixed reality headset, Apple must persuade users that the software experiences are worth the investment. This will require not only compelling first-party experiences but also innovative third-party apps from developers.