Report Claims Apple’s First AR Headset Will Arrive Late Next Year With Mac-Level Processing Power

Report Claims Apple’s First AR Headset Will Arrive Late Next Year With Mac-Level Processing Power
Photo: Spencer Platt, Getty Images

As Apple continues to struggle to keep its new product announcements secret until it’s ready for a big on-stage reveal, a new report has revealed some interesting details about the company’s long-rumoured AR headset, including the fact that it may be a standalone product and not dependent on an iPhone.

Both MacRumors and 9to5Mac are claiming to have seen a recent research report prepared by Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo for investors that includes new details about Apple’s headset plans that seem to go against another report from back in September. That report cited anonymous sources who claimed the headset’s processor was ready for trial production but wouldn’t be as powerful as the processors used in existing Apple products like the iPad, iPhone, and even the MacBook. As a result, it was believed the Apple headset would be dependent on the machine learning capabilities of the processor in another device, like a tethered iPhone, for its augmented and mixed reality tricks, and would mostly function like a wireless display.

On the contrary, Ming-Chi Kuo, an Apple analyst with an impressively solid track record of foreseeing what products the company has enroute, has instead predicted the Apple AR headset will arrive closer to the end of 2022 and will be powered by a pair of processors: one to handle “sensor-related computing” and one for everything else that “will have similar computing power as the M1 for Mac.” Why all the added horsepower? Kuo believes it’s because the headset will be simultaneously processing live feeds from more optical sensors than even the iPhone Pro models have to:

Apple’s AR headset requires a separate processor as the computing power of the sensor is significantly higher than that of the iPhone. For example, the AR headset requires at least 6-8 optical modules to simultaneously provide continuous video see-through AR services to users. In comparison, an iPhone requires up to 3 optical modules running simultaneously and does not require continuous computing.

The use of an M1-calibre processor will also increase the headset’s potential capabilities helping to set it apart from what the competition’s products can do. But more importantly, as has been evident with other virtual and augmented reality products, consumers don’t really want a headset that’s dependent on other expensive hardware. The Oculus Go and Quest products were huge hits and not just because they were affordable. Neither require a gaming PC or high-end smartphone to work. Unlike the Apple Watch that is essentially a wrist-worn second screen for the iPhone, an AR or ML headset should provide an entirely different experience, and from the sounds of it, that’s what Apple is planning to offer late next year.