UPDATED 16:47 EST / JANUARY 14 2022

EMERGING TECH

Report: Development challenges may delay launch of Apple’s mixed-reality headset

Apple Inc. could reportedly push back the launch of long-expected mixed-reality headset from this year to 2023 because of technical challenges that have emerged during the device’s development. 

Bloomberg reported the potential delay today, citing people familiar with the matter.

Apple is reported to be developing a high-end headset that will provide both augmented reality and virtual reality features. Originally, the device was expected to debut at the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference this June. Apple was reportedly planning to put the headset on sale sometime after the WWDC announcement.

Now, however, Apple is said to be exploring the possibility of delaying the announcement by at least a few months, or potentially pushing it back to 2023. If the iPhone maker goes forward with the plan, the device would reportedly start shipping to customers later than planned as well.

According to today’s report, Apple’s hesitance to debut the headset at WWDC in June is the result of ongoing development challenges related to the device’s software and cameras. Additionally, there are reportedly overheating issues caused by the onboard processor.

Apple’s mixed-reality headset is reported to feature a processor “on par” with the M1 Pro chip in the latest MacBook Pro laptops. The M1 Pro is based on a five-nanometer process and features 33.7 billion transistors, more than twice as many as its predecessor. The chip’s onboard central processing unit is described as up to 70% faster than Apple’s previous-generation silicon, while the integrated graphics card offers a twofold performance improvement.

At one point, Apple reportedly considered offloading some computing tasks from its mixed-reality headset to an external processing device as a way of mitigating overheating issues. However, the idea was eventually shelved. Some reports have suggested that the headset’s current design includes not one but two chips: a primary processor and a second, less advanced chip for supporting the onboard sensors.

Apple is investing significant resources in its mixed-reality initiative. The company’s headset is reportedly being developed by a large team known internally as the Technology Development Group that has more than 2,000 employees. 

Apple’s development effort encompasses not only hardware but also software. The iPhone maker is reported to be developing a specialized operating system for the headset based on iOS and will be known as rOS.

Apple’s operating systems are usually the main focus of WWDC. If a mixed-reality headset is announced at the event after all, the device can be expected to make its debut alongside new versions of iOS, macOS and watchOS. Apple may also detail the rOS operating system.

Image: Apple

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