Here's another sign the Apple AR/VR headset is launching soon

Apple VR
(Image credit: Future)

At this point it seems certain that an Apple AR/VR headset is on the way, even if it hasn't been officially confirmed – and we just got another big hint that the device's launch could be happening sooner rather than later.

According to Mark Gurman in his latest Power On newsletter, Apple has hired Andrea Schubert from Meta (the company previously known as Facebook). That may not interest you too much, until you hear that Schubert was the head of communications and public relations for augmented reality at Meta.

Putting two and two together, it seems the appointment may well be linked to the arrival of Apple's new piece of hardware. Previous rumors have suggested that the headset is going to make its debut at some point in 2022.

VR plus AR

At the moment there's some uncertainty around this headset that Apple is reportedly making. It's been tipped as a self-enclosed virtual reality (VR) device in the style of the Oculus Quest 2, where everything you see is computer generated.

However, we've seen lots of suggestions that the hardware will support augmented reality (AR) too – that's digital graphics overlaid on the real world. As well as being slated for a 2022 launch, it also sounds as though the device is going to come running a custom Apple chip, as we would expect.

But this is a separate device to the more lightweight AR specs that Apple is also rumored to be working on, in the style of Google Glass. These glasses are said to be launching after the main VR/AR headset, perhaps at some point in 2023.

Analysis: Apple's next big product category

Apple Watch Series 7 images of watch on test

(Image credit: TechRadar)

It may seem somewhat tenuous to connect a new employee to a hardware launch – people change jobs and roles all the time, after all – but considering the momentum behind rumors of an Apple AR/VR headset, the appointment of Andrea Schubert to Apple's ranks does seem telling.

The device won't be confirmed by Apple until launch day of course, but what is on the record is CEO Tim Cook's love of everything AR. Cook thinks the technology can "amplify human performance" and we've seen augmented reality features added to the iPhone and iPad in recent years.

And Cook is also reportedly keen to oversee the introduction of one more big, new product category before he hands over the reins at Apple. The safe bet for that product is something to do with AR and VR, although you could probably get decent odds on it being the Apple Car as well.

The last time Apple launched something completely new and separate from its existing products was April 2015, when we got our first look at the Apple Watch. All the signs are that 2022 could be the year for another expansion at Apple.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

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.