Apple’s mixed reality headset will feature an iOS-like interface, advanced hand tracking, and work as a second screen for Mac

The AR/VR headset that Apple has been working on for years is set to launch in 2023, which means rumors about the device are on the rise. Bloomberg today shared information about the interface of the headset, the applications it will offer and how it works.

Apple’s mixed reality headset will have an “iOS-like” interface that will include “many functions” available on the iPhone and iPad, the headset can also be used as an external display for a connected Mac. Users will be able to see their Mac’s display in virtual reality, controlling the Mac with a physical keyboard and trackpad/mouse.

Using the headset “will feel familiar to Apple users”, with an interface nearly identical in appearance to an ‌iPhone‌ or ‌iPad‌. There will be a home screen with app icons that can be rearranged, as well as customizable widgets.

Eye and hand tracking will be a “major selling point” for the headset, with Apple using external cameras that can scan a user’s hands and eyes. According to Bloomberg, the wearer will be able to control the headset by looking at an item on the screen to select it, then using gestures to activate the item on the screen. Unlike other headset options, Apple won’t rely on a physical controller.

Presumably named “Reality Pro”, the headset will be able to switch between augmented reality and virtual reality. Augmented Reality will overlay virtual objects on the real world, while Virtual Reality is an all-virtual environment that excludes the environment of the wearer. Augmented reality features will work through a pass-through mode that will use the headset’s exterior cameras, and switching between AR and VR will be done with a Digital Crown-like control button.

Video conferencing will be the focus, with Apple adding video chat capabilities and FaceTime-based meeting rooms. A user’s real face and full body will be rendered in virtual reality for interactive meetings, with realistic avatars available for one-on-one discussions. FaceTime with multiple participants will use less detailed icons like Memoji.

Apple is working on VR content with media partners like Disney and Dolby, as well as updating AppleTV+ shows and movies to work with the headset. Apple’s goal is to provide viewers with the experience of watching a giant screen in an environment like a desert or outer space.

Applications will include Safari, PicturesMail, Messages, ‌Apple TV+‌, Apple MusicPodcasts and Calendar, and the headset will have a App store for third-party content. Siri can be used for text input, just like an ‌iPhone‌, ‌iPad‌ or Mac keyboard. Apple is working on an Airstrike feature, but it’s not expected to be ready for launch.

For those who wear glasses, Apple will provide custom lenses that can sit in the case, and Apple expects users to wear AirPods to get an audio experience to match the visual experience provided by the headphones, although it has built-in speakers.

As said earlier, the headset will have an external battery to prevent it from overheating on the user’s face due to the high-end Mac chips used for the device. The battery is about the size of two iPhone 14 Pro Max models stacked on top of each other and will power the headset for about two hours. An external battery will allow users to swap out one battery and charge another to use the device longer.

Other features of the AR/VR headset include 4K microOLED displays, over a dozen cameras, iris tracking, facial expression detection, and more, with details available in our overview. The headset is expected later in 2023, possibly as early as spring, and it will sell for around $3,000.

To make people interested in headphones, Apple Store locations will have a dedicated area where it can be demonstrated and tested after launch.

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