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Apple's AR/VR headset is likely to be a no show at WWDC 2022

Apple AR/VR headset mock up
One day we might see a real Apple AR/VR headset (Image credit: Future)
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The much-leaked Apple AR/VR headset isn't going to see the light of day until 2023 according to a new report citing "people familiar" with the project, which means we won't get to see it revealed at the WWDC 2022 event this coming Monday.

It's the New York Times (opens in new tab) that has the report, saying that the device – "a headset that blends the digital world with the real one" – is now scheduled to launch next year, after "continuing challenges" with battery power put an end to any chance of a 2022 reveal.

The headset is apparently going to combine both augmented reality (digital graphics on top of the real world) and virtual reality (entirely enclosed digital worlds), and has been described as a mixed reality device. Think part Oculus Quest, part HoloLens.

Hollywood involvement

There are a few more details to be teased out of this latest New York Times article. It says that Hollywood directors including Jon Favreau (who helmed films including Iron Man and the 2019 version of the Lion King) are being tapped up by Apple to develop video content for the new hardware.

Favreau is an executive producer on the Prehistoric Planet series that recently appeared on Apple TV Plus, so he already has a relationship with Apple. It seems that there will be at least some content available for the headset when it sees the light of day.

What we will get at WWDC 2022 next week are new tools for developers to add extra camera and voice functionality to their projects, leading the way to more hands-free control of apps. There have been rumors that the upcoming device could use 3D hand tracking as an input system.


Analysis: Apple is going to take its time

When trademarks for a realityOS software platform popped up last week, we dared to hope that Apple might be about to unveil its AR/VR headset at the Worldwide Developers Conference, which gets underway on June 6. A launch next week would have been surprising, but not entirely out of the question.

Now it looks very unlikely that we'll see the new hardware, even if it has already been shown off to the Apple board. What we might get at WWDC 2022 are some glimpses of the software without any kind of hardware reveal – it is a developer conference after all, and it would mean app makers could get to work on apps for the headset.

What we do know from Apple's history is that it often likes to take its time with products, whether that's folding phones or smartwatches. While it's not always first to market with products, when Apple does introduce something in a new market category, it usually becomes one of the best options almost straight away.

It looks like being the same story here. We already have plenty of VR and AR devices on sale of course, with plenty more in the pipeline – and there are constant reminders of the potential of the metaverse. Apple won't rush into pushing out a headset until it's completely happy with the hardware and software.

David Nield
David Nield

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.