According to a tweet from Evan Blass (@evleaks), Apple’s upcoming mixed reality headset has undergone significant improvements, transforming it from an “underwhelming” device to one that has left users “blown away.” The headset, which combines augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology, is set to be unveiled at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June.
To encourage user adoption, Apple is reportedly working on dedicated sports, gaming, wellness, and collaboration apps. Bloomberg reports that 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, and others, will also be optimized for the headset.
The device is expected to 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, and the Health app will guide users through meditation using graphics, sounds, and voice-overs. Apple is pushing deeper into sports, focusing on providing immersive viewing experiences for Major League Baseball (MLB) and Major League Soccer (MLS) content.
The mixed reality headset will feature a dedicated FaceTime experience using Memoji-like avatars and virtual meeting rooms. Additionally, Apple is developing a Books app for reading in VR, 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.
However, 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.
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.” 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.
Ultimately, for the mixed reality headset to justify its $3,000 price tag, it must offer a truly groundbreaking experience that leaves users with a “take my money” sentiment, compelling them to invest in this next-generation technology. We will see if Apple will indeed impress consumers as much as Blass suggests they will.