Apple could soon unveil their most ambitious hardware product in years.
Apple (AAPL), set to host its Worldwide Developers Conference starting Monday in Cupertino, California, is widely anticipated to debut a “mixed reality” headset combining both virtual and augmented reality technology – which adds virtual images on live footage of real world – capabilities.
Apple’s highly anticipated AR/VR headset launch would mark its most ambitious hardware product launch since that of the Apple Watch in 2015. It could mark a new era for the company and influence how millions interact with computers and the physical world around them.
Apple will announce many announcements at its developers event, not only the headset. Expect software updates for its most popular devices like the iPhone and Apple Watch as well as announcements related to accessories for those devices.
Apple may unveil plans to incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) into more of its products and services to stay abreast of Silicon Valley’s renewed pursuit of this cutting-edge tech.
Apple will livestream its event via their website and YouTube, beginning at 10:00 a.m. Pacific/1:00 p.m. Eastern.
Here’s an in-depth preview of what to expect during this visit:
A ‘mixed reality’ headset
Since Tim Cook first expressed an interest in mixed reality several years ago, Apple’s CEO has indicated a commitment to it as part of their R&D effort. Now it appears ready to unveil what they have been developing.
Bloomberg reported that a new headset, possibly named Reality One or Reality Pro, will feature an iOS-like user interface with immersive video displays and cameras and sensors to allow for control via hands, eye movements or Siri. Furthermore, rumors indicate it may include an outward-facing display which displays eye movements and facial expressions so onlookers can engage without feeling like they are speaking to an inanimate device.
Apple’s forthcoming virtual reality headset may include apps designed for gaming, fitness and meditation; as well as access to iOS applications like Messages, FaceTime and Safari, according to Bloomberg. For instance, when used with FaceTime, the headset “renders the user’s face and body into virtual reality to give an illusion that both are present within one room,” Bloomberg notes.
Apple’s decision to unveil this product at WWDC suggests they want to foster development for it, in order to make the experience more compelling for customers and justify its high price point.
Apple reportedly is considering setting a $3,000 price point for its virtual reality headset, in line with most of its products, to test potential buyers during times of global economic instability. Other tech companies have failed to gain mainstream traction for headsets; and in recent years while rumors about Apple’s product development lingered, attention was diverted away from virtual reality towards artificial intelligence technology instead.
Apple may yet confound those skeptical of headsets: with its diverse customer base and rapid entry into the market, its presence could breathe new life into this sector of consumer technology.
MacBook Pro Upgrade
Mixed reality headsets may not be the only piece of technology making headlines this year.
Apple is expected to introduce a 15-inch MacBook Air equipped with their M2 processor on October 19, while currently, 13 inch MacBook Air models exist.
Users looking for a larger-sized Apple laptop used to have to opt for the more expensive MacBook Pro model.
New features for iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch
WWDC is traditionally a software event, so Apple executives will likely spend much of the event highlighting changes and upgrades coming to iOS 17 and iPadOS 17.
Last year’s updates saw major design updates to both Lock Screen and iMessage; this year we can expect only minor alterations.
Apple is anticipated to ramp up their health tracking with iOS 17, offering everything from mood tracking and vision checks, to journaling apps that allow users to record both thoughts and activity levels that can later be analyzed to show whether a person spends their day inside or outside the house. According to The Wall Street Journal, these efforts may also include adding notifications for when people go back inside after leaving home for too long, along with tracking how much time is spent home or outside in general.
iOS 17 will feature an updated lock screen experience when placed horizontally: widgets linked to calendar events, weather reports and other apps will serve as digital hubs when displayed as part of a horizontal view (iPadOS 17 may also introduce similar health-focused lock screen capabilities and features).
Others expected upgrades include an Apple Watch OS update that would focus on quick glances at widgets and more information regarding its next-generation CarPlay platform, first announced last year.
Apple Eager to Show AI Off
While most of Apple’s event may focus on VR, they could also aim to demonstrate how it’s keeping pace with Silicon Valley’s obsession: artificial intelligence.
Apple is set to unveil an AI-powered digital coaching service designed to encourage exercise and change in sleeping and eating habits, according to reports. Although details on its workings remain vague, this effort comes at a time when many big tech companies are racing to introduce AI technologies after ChatGPT’s viral success.
Apple could unveil and expand upon some of the accessibility tools recently announced for iPhones and iPads, such as one which promises to replicate a user’s voice for phone calls with only 15 minutes of training required.
Apple may use this event to outline their AI strategies as have many other tech giants recently.