Apple’s long-rumored mixed reality headset, which will reportedly offer a combination of augmented and virtual reality experiences, will “likely release” in January 2023, according to respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In a new analyst note seen by 9to5Mac, Kuo notes that the headset is “the most complicated product Apple has ever designed” but that its release could help fuel “rapid growth” in the market for head-mounted displays.
This is far from the first time Kuo has predicted when Apple’s headset could release, but previous predictions have had far wider release windows. Last year he said we might see the headset released at some point in 2022 (which now seems unlikely), and just this month he predicted that a release could come at some point in the second quarter of next year. This doesn’t guarantee a January announcement (Apple’s plans could change, or Kuo’s supply chain sources could be wrong), but listing a specific month is a strong show of confidence from the analyst.
It also coincides with a lot of reported activity around the headset at Apple. The company’s board of directors reportedly tried out the headset in early May, mentions of the headset’s RealityOS software are cropping up in Apple’s code and appearing in trademark applications, and Apple CEO Tim Cook recently teased upcoming augmented reality announcements.
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Numerous reports over the years have attempted to shed light on Apple’s elusive headset. It will reportedly work as a standalone device rather than needing to be tethered to a computer, and it could have as many as 14 cameras to track its movement, according to a recent report in The Information. Internally, it’ll reportedly have a processor with a similar amount of processing power to M1 chips found in recent Macs, though when it comes to power it’s unclear whether its battery will be wearable on the user’s body, or built into the headset itself.
While Kuo predicts that Apple is about to make a big splash in the mixed reality headset space, he expects its main competitor Meta to take a step back, 9to5Mac reports. Kuo expects the company formerly known as Facebook to cut back its near term investment in VR hardware to focus on its advertising business. That’s in spite of Meta recently showing off a host of VR headset prototypes it’s working on.