Apple to launch metaverse AR-VR hybrid headset Reality Pro in spring 2023

Apple has made its first step into the metaverse. Recently, it announced it would launch a hybrid headset that combines augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies this spring.

Named Reality Pro, the device will go public ahead of June’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). Apple has scheduled the product to be shipped later in the fall of 2023, along with new iPhones and other Apple devices.

Apple had planned to launch and ship this headset to the market in 2019. However, it was delayed to 2020, 2021 and 2022 before eventually setting the due year in 2023.

“Back then, Apple had aimed to get it to market by 2019. Over time, the delays stacked up. Apple had plans to launch the device in 2020, then 2021 and then 2022,”

Mark Gurman, journalist at Bloomberg

There are rumors that Apple had shared this headset with a small number of third-party developers for testing. Currently, the company is building an operating system for this headset, which would be called xrOS. Within the company, however, this OS is codenamed “Borealis.”

Reality Pro is projected to cost $3,000, making it twice the price of Meta’s recently released Quest Pro headset, which sits at $1,499, and much more expensive than the $399 Quest 2 VR headset.

Venturing into metaverse, competing with Meta

Apple describes Reality Pro as a hub for people to work, play and socialize in virtual environments. While Apple aims to expand its scope to the metaverse, CEO Tim Cook said last year that he did not like the term. However, he was optimistic about augmented reality. Before Reality Pro, Apple had developed a “walled garden” software ecosystem that, so far, is not compatible with the metaverse.

“I’m really not sure the average person can tell you what the metaverse is,” Cook told the Dutch outlet Bright.

One of the firms actively building visions in the metaverse is Meta. The company’s CEO and founder, Mark Zuckerberg, has spent billions of dollars on building his own vision for the metaverse — all despite investors having remained critical.

Zuckerberg said last October that the metaverse could be better for everyone.

“I strongly believe that an open, interoperable metaverse built by many different developers and companies is going to be better for everyone,” Zuckerberg said.

By introducing an AR and VR hybrid headset as its step into the metaverse, Apple would be directly competing with Meta. However, Roham Goswami from CNBC said Apple’s Reality Pro would be different from Meta’s Quest Pro.

“I’m really not sure the average person can tell you what the metaverse is.”

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple

Apple’s Reality Pro is a hybrid of augmented and virtual reality environments that enhance real-life settings. Meta’s Quest Pro, on the other hand, is entirely used to get users immersed in a computer-generated environment. This gives Reality Pro the upper hand.

Since Apple focuses most of its efforts on the Reality Pro headset, Goswami said this would mean other products from the company would receive relatively minor updates this year.