Rumours of Apple's VR headset has been circling for years but as the speculated Spring reveal gets closer the details are becoming more real, and some are, frankly, incredible. If Apple can only deliver a fraction of the buzzy specs being suggested this could be the hottest new tech of 2023.
The new reports on Apple's VR headset come as we get closer to Sony's launch of the PSVR 2 next month, you can read all you need to know about this in our PSVR 2 hub and discover which games to play on day one in our guide to the best PSVR 2 games. While Sony's new VR headset looks fantastic, Apple's proposed tech could trump it if these rumours come true.
A recent report at Bloomberg (opens in new tab) suggests Apple's VR and AR headset – named Reality Pro – could be the most advanced headset yet, and will include an iOS-like interface that works without external controllers, 1-to-1 full body rendering and the option for screen mirroring from your Mac.
According to Blomberg's Mark Gurman, who's regular Apple predictions come to fruition, this Apple VR and AR headset will make use of multiple external cameras to track your movement and hands; sensors in the headset itself will be able to track your eye movement. This combination, rumours suggest, means you will be able to 'look' at a menu or option and then pinch your fingers together to select it – there's no need for a controller.
We've yet to see what the Apple Reality Pro headset will look like, but it's hasn't stopped designers from speculating. The renders by designer Antonio de Rosa (opens in new tab) are some of the best around (see them on this page). Would you wear this? I would.
Looks aside, Gurman's report suggests we'll be able to toggle between full VR and AR by twisting a "digital crown", as reported at The Information (opens in new tab) at the start of January. This is similar to how PSVR 2 will approach pass-through video to enable you to see the world around; but Apple's Reality Pro appears to take AR more seriously, with speculation of 3D iPhone and Mac displays overlaid into your world.
Apple looks to be chasing down Meta's next headset, which will mix VR and AR, in a fight for the metaverse, with a big part of this new Apple VR and AR headset focusing on collaboration between users. Headset wearers making one-on-one FaceTime calls will see their friends rendered 1-to-1 as lifelike full body models. Let's remember, Meta has taken a lower-res cartoon approach to its user avatars, these resemble Nintendo Miis rather than realistic people. Given the future of design and the internet is focused on collaboration and persistent content, this approach from Apple could push its VR and AR headset to the fore.
The rumours reported by Gurman also include more options for full immersion, for example there's speculation you'll be able to watch videos on a large screen in-VR cinema with connectivity to AirPods Pro to add spatial audio awareness. This kind of approach has been trialled before, with Sony releasing a virtual seat app to watch concerts and football matches for the original PSVR.
Interestingly, Reuters (opens in new tab) reported Apple's headset is actually being developed in conjunction with Disney and Sony, to bring content to tech build for video streaming – no doubt there will be VR-enabled Apple TV content.
There's confusion over whether Apple's Reality Pro headset will be wired, like PSVR 2 or wireless, like Meta Quest Pro, but given Gurman also raises speculation over the battery pack – around the size of two iPhone 14 pro Maxes – for two hours of power, wireless will be an option.
If even half of Gurman's rumours come true, Apple's AR and VR headset could be the most advanced virtual reality headset on the market (though we've not heard about display resolution, etc just yet), but this could come at a price. Gurman suggests the Apple Reality Pro will sell for $3,000, which puts it out of reach for many, and suggests it's geared around professionals and studio uses. Though there is also speculation Apple is developing a lower-cost version for $1,500, which puts it head-to-head with the higher end PC VR headsets but makes PSVR 2 look like a bargain.
As the rumours around Apple's VR and AR headset mount, it's best to also reflect on past gossip with the Apple rumours from 2022 that never came true. Like I say, though, if even a fraction of Gurman's Apple VR headset leaks come true Reality Pro could be outstanding.