Apple’s New Headset May Solve One Big Virtual Reality Issue

Details about Apple's new Reality Pro device have leaked

Man wearing a VR headset interacting with objects in the metaverse. New details have leaked about Apple's upcoming VR headset.
Will Apple's rumored headset solve some VR issues?
We Are / Getty

While we’re still figuring out if the metaverse is going to be a thing, details about Apple’s mixed-reality headset have leaked — and it looks like it’ll have at least one eye-catching (pun intended) feature.

Per Mark Gurman at Bloomberg, the headset will “attempt to create a 3D version of the iPhone’s operating system.” The estimated $3,000 device (possibly named Reality Pro) will supposedly involve immersive video content, serve as an external display for a connected Mac and feature advanced FaceTime-based videoconferencing and meeting rooms that utilize realistic avatars.

But it’s the eye- and hand-tracking capabilities that seem to promise something special. A combination of external cameras and sensors will analyze and read a user’s hands and eyes, which should allow the wearer to control and select an on-screen item just by looking at it. Then they’ll use their thumb and index finger to activate the selected task, in lieu of a hand controller.

Is the Metaverse Shrinking? VR Headset Sales Actually Declined in 2022.
A new report suggests our interest in the virtual world may not pick up until 2024

The other major selling point is the ease at which a user can switch between virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), simply by use of a Digital Crown, which most will be familiar with if they’ve ever used an Apple Watch.

The downsides? While immersive, theater-like movie watching is a key feature of the set, users may have to wear AirPods to get full spatial audio. And the apparently large battery will need to rest separately in a user’s pocket, a necessity due to the powerful (and heated) processors used in the headset. And even then, it’s only good for about two hours per charge.

Gurman estimates a spring announcement and an initial sales goal of one million units within the first year of release, which will probably be limited to the U.S. (Apple did not confirm any details.)

The hand- and eye-tracking tech seems to be winning the most praise. As Hamish Hector at TechRadar notes, “I’ve found that hand tracking on Meta’s Quest devices struggles most in menus. If you’re in a game and go to pick up an object it works really well, but the moment you have to point and interact with a menu at a distance things can start to feel subpar.”

Still, even Apple seems to be cautious about Reality Pro’s initial success — even before launch, the company is reportedly already working on a cheaper version.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.