Apple has taken its first official step into the world of virtual and augmented reality, but not with its own product. Instead, Apple has begun selling Mattel's View-Master VR viewfinder in its online store.
The View-Master headset works with your phone, similar to Google Cardboard, along with an app and small disc cards that are reminiscent of the 3D View-Masters of your childhood. The updated viewfinder lets you explore different topics of interest through a combined AR and VR experience.
The headset doesn't exactly provide the full immersive VR that Oculus Rift and HTC Vive do, but it's a great (and cheap) entry-level experience that is an alternative to Samsung Gear VR and Cardboard. Apple is selling the View-Master VR starter kit for $29.95 (about £20, AU$42).
A small step into VR
Though the View-Master may not be an Apple product, that the company is selling the headset marks Apple's first foray into VR and AR technology, and comes just over a week after CEO Tim Cook said he thinks VR is "really cool," has "interesting applications" and isn't "niche."
However, a report last week indicated that Apple has a massive, secret team working on a VR headset and that prototypes of various configurations have been built, though the report is no guarantee Apple is working on or will ever release a headset.
Reading into the kind of VR viewer Apple has chosen to start selling, the View-Master VR works by slotting in an iPhone. Could Apple be testing the waters for interest in this kind of viewer, or offering it as a cheap option as it readies a full-blown headset?
Cook's comments and the addition of the View-Master VR viewer to its store indicate Apple has kept a close eye on the developments surrounding in the space, and we're inclined to believe that it has, more than likely, some secret up its sleeves.
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