Home Apple and Meta race to improve next-gen XR headsets

Apple and Meta race to improve next-gen XR headsets

Although Apple and Meta have yet to release their first consumer virtual reality headsets, the tech giants are already working on the subsequent iterations.

According to an Oct. 8 Bloomberg report, Apple’s first headset, the Vision Pro, will likely launch in early 2023. The Vision Pro features high-resolution cameras that enable mixed reality, a powerful Apple-designed M2 chip, and crisp micro-OLED displays.

However, the current Vision Pro prototype is large and heavy, and testers have reported neck strain from wearing the device for prolonged periods.

For the next version, Apple engineers want to reduce the headset’s weight and size to improve comfort. One option under consideration is an over-the-head strap to better distribute the weight. However, designing lighter hardware components may be the best long-term solution. Apple also aims to simplify prescription lens integration for glasses wearers.

Meta prepping Quest 3 release

Meanwhile, Meta is preparing to release its Quest 3 headset next week at a starting price of $500. The Quest 3 offers upgrades like faster performance and a refined design compared to the prior model — but at $200 more than the Quest 2, Meta wants to lower costs on future versions to expand mainstream appeal.

One strategy is to launch a new entry-level headset without controllers, allowing hand gestures to control the interface. This would lower the production cost, with some rumors suggesting a price under $200 — albeit at the expense of functionality. Meta also plans a high-end replacement for the failed $1,500 Quest Pro.

Though confidence is high at Apple, Meta sees the Vision Pro as a potential game-changer in making virtual reality mainstream. One Meta employee compared the anticipation to how the mobile industry awaited the original iPhone reveal:

“We’re in the ‘afraid of Apple’ stage.”

Both companies continue to have long-term ambitions in augmented reality devices. Apple paused its AR glasses project last year due to immature technology — but it may restart development to fulfill CEO Tim Cook’s vision of sleek and discrete AR spectacles. Meta remains committed to eventual AR spectacles and is already testing display components.

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The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Radek Zielinski
Tech Journalist

Radek Zielinski is an experienced technology and financial journalist with a passion for cybersecurity and futurology.

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