Apple’s next big product — a mixed reality headset that will usher the company into a new era — isn’t expected to arrive until next year. But job postings and personnel changes in the company provide insight into some of the unit’s options. It is journalist Mark Gurman from Bloomberg who gives us an estimate in his latest newsletter.
What we know about Apple headphones
We already know that the headset itself is expected to cost between $2,000 and $3,000, as it is a high-end product that will be equipped with a Mac-level M2 chip, more than 10 cameras located outside and inside the device, and displays whose high resolution never before offered in a consumer headset.
We also know that the device will run on a new operating system called realityOS, which will include mixed reality versions of major Apple apps such as Messages, FaceTime and Maps. The first version of the operating system, the code name Oak treeis being completed internally and should be ready for new hardware next year.
Another important detail is the potential name, as it confirms the premium nature of the headset. Our American colleague reported in August that Apple is behind the trademark registrations for “Reality Pro” and “Reality One”, suggesting that the company has not yet made a final choice. The “Reality” moniker makes sense given the name of the operating system and Apple’s existing AR development tools like RealityKit.
Jobs for the helmet
We’re now gathering some additional details, thanks to Apple’s job postings over the past few months and changes to the team behind the upcoming headset – Technology Development Groupor TDG.
Several job postings indicate that Apple is stepping up its efforts to enrich the content of the device. The company is looking for a software developer with experience in visual effects and game activation pipelines capable of creating digital content for virtual and augmented reality environments.
The posts also suggest that Apple is looking to create a video service for the headset with 3D content that can be played in virtual reality. This would follow the company’s 2020 acquisition of NextVR, which has partnered with artists and professional sports leagues to push VR content to headsets.
Apple is also looking for engineers capable of working on development tools aimed at virtual and augmented reality. Unsurprisingly, it seems the company wants its new operating system to use App Intents, which allow apps to work with features like Siri and Shortcuts.
Here is an excerpt from a job posting:
We are looking for a Software Engineer to work on the App Intents framework to help design and implement solutions to unlock deep system intelligence, enable new developer tools, and facilitate new interactions with the user from application data models leveraged by a variety of system services such as Shortcuts, Siri, Search and more.
The most interesting job posting is one that specifically mentions the development of a 3D mixed-reality world, suggesting that Apple is working on a virtual environment similar to the Metaverse — though you wouldn’t expect Apple to adopt that term. Its marketing director said at a recent event that metaverse is “a word I will never use.” And Tim Cook had just said that most people don’t understand the metaverse.
This announcement describes working with other developers to “build tools and frameworks that enable connected experiences in a 3D mixed reality world.”
You’ll work closely with Apple’s UI Framework, Human Interface Designer, and System Capabilities teams, pushing you to think outside the box and solve incredibly difficult and interesting problems in the space. 3D apps.
As the launch approaches, Apple has also added two key people to the management team overseeing the development of the device: a former head of the self-driving car team and one of its most senior employees.
The group itself is led by Mike Rockwell, vice president of Apple’s AR/VR division, as well as Dan Riccio, its former head of all hardware, who likely considers this product to be his latest initiative at Apple. Mr. Riccio reports directly to Chairman and CEO Tim Cook, which underscores the seriousness of the task.
With these new recruits, Apple is bringing back a former senior member of its self-driving car unit: Dave Scott. Scott left the company in early 2021, at a time when several executives in the auto industry were stepping down. But he returned after a brief stint as CEO of Hyperfine, a healthcare company that builds mobile MRI machines.
Then, Apple recently assigned Senior Director of Engineering Yaniv Gur to its headphone team. Mr. Gur joined Apple more than 20 years ago in an acquisition that also brought in Roger Rosner, vice president of apps and pioneer of iWork productivity apps.
A suite of apps
Prior to joining the Headset Group, Mr. Gur oversaw the development of iWork applications (Pages, Keynote and Numbers) in addition to Books, Notes and News applications across all of the company’s platforms. The headset team already has an operating systems administrator, Geoff Stahl, and Mr. Gur’s appointment suggests that the company is developing a suite of productivity apps for the headset, according to Gurman.
It would make sense to include some productivity features, which would match Meta’s approach to its Quests and Microsoft’s HoloLens. Obviously, productivity hasn’t been a big selling point for Apple’s rivals in this space, but it’s certainly a key element of any new AR/VR platform, provided it’s not the sole focus.
What do you think of this future helmet? Niche market or future cardboard? At this price, it seems difficult for us to create a craze on the level of the iPhone, we will have to wait for the release of Apple Glass glasses within three years and the price drop.