Apple prioritising xrOS, readying for hardware launch in 2023

Andy Shephard -

Apple is reportedly developing a virtual and augmented reality headset that will use iris scanning technology for logins and payments, according to The Information. The report cites two people involved in developing the headset and notes that the scanning is intended to make it easier for multiple users to access their own accounts on the device. The eye-scanning system is similar to Apple’s fingerprint or Face ID logins, and it will utilize the headset’s many cameras to authenticate users. The inclusion of iris scanning technology could help differentiate Apple’s headset from its main competitor, the Meta Quest Pro, which does not currently use inward-facing cameras for authentication.

In addition to iris scanning, The Information reports that Apple’s headset will also use downward-facing cameras to capture users’ legs, an area that Meta is still working on. The headset is tentatively expected in 2023, with a rumored $3,000 price tag that is double the cost of the Quest Pro. Both headsets offer augmented reality features by passing live video from front-facing cameras to the screen, but they do not offer the same fidelity as real-world vision. The success of both headsets will depend on their ability to recruit developers to their respective platforms.

Apple’s mixed reality headset has been in development for several years and its launch date has reportedly slipped multiple times. The company is said to be planning to reveal the device ahead of the Worldwide Developers Conference in June and will start shipping it this fall. According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, the headset will use Apple’s new xrOS operating system and will be branded as the Reality Pro. Gurman notes that there are still “many kinks to work out” with the device’s hardware, software, and services, and this is slowing down Apple’s other projects. As a result, we may see a more low-key year for new releases from the company, and it could also be why Apple missed its goal of transitioning away from Intel-powered chips within two years.

Gurman’s prediction corroborates rumors from Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who said last week that the development of the headset has been delayed “due to issues with mechanical component drop testing and the availability of software development tools.”