Apple’s WWDC 2022 wasn’t short on updates. In fact, by the time Craig Federighi started explaining the minutiae of the new iPadOS, only the most ardent Apple fans were able to pay attention.
One feature, as well as one device, was nowhere to be seen, though: Apple’s rumored mixed reality glasses and the accompanying realityOS (again, a rumored name).
A little background. We’ve heard rumors and reports about Apple’s virtual/augmented/mixed reality glasses for years now. At one point, the project appears to have been abandoned, only for a new crop of rumors to start picking up steam in 2019.
In the last year or so, however, reports started to be a bit less vague. In 2021, Bloomberg reported that Apple is working on a virtual reality headset, but not for a wide audience. Instead, the upcoming VR glasses would be a niche product with a very high price, well outside of what most people would pay for such a gadget. The report said that this headset would likely be battery-powered, have a powerful processor, external cameras (for AR features), a fabric exterior, and a way to accommodate people who wear glasses.
More recently, we’ve started hearing about realityOS, the operating system powering a new generation of Apple products focused on virtual/augmented/mixed reality, including the upcoming headset. A Bloomberg report claimed that Apple execs have already had a chance to try out the device which was in an “advanced” stage (though the report noted that the launch might happen later). It all appeared to align with WWDC 2022, down to the 3D character models Apple placed on its WWDC invites.
But the WWDC’s opening keynote came and went, and there were zero mentions of realityOS or the rumored headset. At Mashable, we hoped for a tease of some sort up till the very end, but Apple CEO Tim Cook decided to skip the “one more thing” this year.
Apart from the obvious possible reasons — the product(s) just aren’t ready — we have some additional clues.
In May, reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo tweeted his thoughts on the matter. “It still takes some time before Apple AR/MR headset enters mass production, so I don’t think Apple will release AR/MR headset and rumored realityOS at WWDC this year,” he wrote. According to Kuo, showing the device when it’s not ready would merely give Apple’s competitors a chance to see, at least partially, its hardware specifications and OS design, and Apple doesn’t want that. Kuo claims this would kickstart a flurry of copycats which would hit the stores before Apple’s product does.
So when is the headset coming? “In 2023,” claims Kuo.
This is roughly in line with Bloomberg’s report which said that Apple plans to unveil the headset either at the end of 2022 or sometime next year, with the consumer release planned for 2023. In another report, Bloomberg said that issues with overheating, cameras, and software may lead to delays — and perhaps that’s exactly what happened.