Apple expected to launch mixed-reality headset at WWDC

Apple chief executive Tim Cook
Apple chief executive Tim Cook

All eyes are on Apple as it is expected to launch a mixed-reality headset at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), in California.

It would be the technology giant’s most significant product release since it unveiled the Apple Watch, in 2015.

Boss Tim Cook is expected to use his keynote speech to say this new product is the future.

But its expected price tag of about $3,000 (£2,400) might make that a tough sell for consumers.

External battery

While Apple has not yet confirmed its existence, reports suggest the headset will offer both virtual- and augmented- reality experiences.

Images online show the “Reality Pro” looking a bit like wraparound ski goggles.

If the leaks are correct, Apple has made its headset smaller and lighter by removing the internal battery. Users will instead have to carry an external battery that connects to the headset by a cable.

A reveal at WWDC will not mean the headset will be on immediate sale – it will hit the shelves later in the year, reports suggest.

Streamed live

Sol Rogers, from visual-effects film studio Magnopus, told BBC News the industry would not change overnight as a result of WWDC but it would bring “validation and credibility” to the technology as a whole.

And when Apple does “find success”, it would “redefine our digital and physical realities and propel us into a future where the extraordinary becomes the everyday”.

The conference, at Apple Park, the company’s headquarters, in Cupertino, California, will be streamed live on its website and YouTube channel.

Mr Cook is also expected to speak about Apple’s artificial-intelligence (AI) strategy.

Hotly contested

Since the rise of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, punters are growing more interested in deploying generative AI on their iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, and Macs.

Apple has been quieter than Microsoft and Google, when it comes to this hotly contested AI arms race.

But recent job adverts for more software engineers suggest it is looking to ramp up its AI expertise.

Apple is also expected to reveal a 15in (38cm) MacBook Air laptop and updates to its iOS, iPadOS and macOS operating systems.

A report from the Wall Street Journal also detailed how Apple would launch a mental-health journaling iPhone app at WWDC.

Last week:

  • Meta teased the latest Quest virtual-reality headset, with a much cheaper price of $499 (£402)
  • Lenovo released its latest ThinkReality VRX headset

Meta has also invested heavily in mixed-reality – but right now the sector is struggling.

The headset market saw a 54% drop in global sales last year, according to the International Data Corporation.

And Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg will probably be hoping Mr Cook can turn the focus firmly on headsets as the next big thing.

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