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Expensive Apple VR headset tipped, as AR device hits technical skids

Apple may bring a standalone virtual reality headset to market before the arrival of the long-mooted AR Apple Glass, but it will stretch wallets to the limit, according to a new Bloomberg report.

Sources speaking to the well-connected Mark Gurman said a “pricey, niche” headset will arrive on the scene in lieu of the AR counterpart, which is experiencing “development hurdles.”

The report says the interim device will be “mostly virtual reality” providing an “all-encompassing 3D digital environment,” which will allow iPhone owners to enjoy their favourite games and videos in VR. There’ll also be a communication element too, the report says.

There will be an AR element too, the sources say, but that feature will be far less pronounced than the eventual Apple Glass – or whatever the company decides to call it. The report says Apple will use the interim VR device to prepare developers for the main event, possibly as soon as 2023.

The VR headset will arrive next year and is likely to compete directly with the best VR headsets like the $299 Oculus Quest 2, but will be far more expensive, the sources say. As a result, some at the world’s top tech company believe there’ll only be one a day sold, per retail store.

The standalone VR headset will include processors even more powerful than the M1 chip within the latest Mac computers, Gurman writes, with Apple also offering higher resolution displays than we’re used to with Oculus or rivals like the HTC Vive or PlayStation VR. The device will also have a fan, the report says.

Apple has worked hard to shrink the size of the prototype, the sources say, by planning to offer prescription lenses with each headset, rather than simply leaving room for eyeglasses within the construction. It’ll also have a fabric construction to reduce the weight.

The report also says Apple’s AR device could still be years away as the company grapples with many of the unique technical challenges.

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