The forthcoming "Apple Glass" AR headset has reportedly hit more than one hurdle in its development and may now be beaten to market by an alternative Apple device. This is expected to be a heavier, more familiar-looking VR headset, akin to Oculus or PlayStation VR, but more expensive.
According to Bloomberg, Apple plans to launch this new headset in 2022, and price it above the $300 to $900 of its rivals. It's believed that Apple expects this to only sell in low volumes, reportedly only one headset per day per Apple Store, similar to how the Mac Pro sells now.
The headset is said to be codenamed N301 and is said to be in the late prototype stage. It's claimed that the headset will contain processors that out-perform the Apple M1 chips in the new Apple Silicon Macs.
"Apple Glass," codenamed N431, on the other hand, are reportedly said to be in a pre-prototype stage known as "architecture." This means Apple is still at the stage of developing underlying "Apple Glass" technologies instead of physical devices.
Apple has been working on different designs of headsets for many years, with Jony Ive reportedly delaying one over design concerns.
His chief disagreement with Apple's plans at the time was that the company wanted to release a two-part system. There would be a headset and a separate device that would contain the processors.
According to Bloomberg, one issue with bundling the processors into the single headset design of "Apple Glass" has been that it made the device heavy. Reportedly, early testing raised issues over neck strain.
Apple has also previously been reported to be working on auto-adjusting "Apple Glass" sets that would remove the need for prescription lenses. Bloomberg says that in the current design, Apple has reduced the size by removing the space that VR headsets typically keep for prescription lenses.
This could mean that Apple is confident of its alternative to prescription lenses. However, it would raise issues over setting up the lenses when buying at an Apple Store or online. And different countries have different series of regulations regarding such lenses, which Apple would most likely have to address so that one single device could be sold everywhere.
This isn't the first report that Apple may not start its wearable AR headset plans with the expected "Apple Glass." In September 2020, Jean-Louis Gassee predicted Apple would start with Virtual Reality goggles.