The Information shared a new report which seems to corroborate Bloomberg’s from a couple of weeks ago. However, ArsTechnica is skeptical:
For Apple to launch a VR headset this soon (or at all) would be a surprising move, to say the least.
The company has no developer APIs for VR beyond nominal support for the SteamVR SDK in its custom Metal graphics API, even as it has spent years building up very robust AR APIs. CEO Tim Cook has also been publicly dismissive of VR in the past, citing its tendency to isolate users from those around them, among other factors. He has repeatedly pointed to augmented reality as Apple’s future focus.
Apple has been building up tools for the creation of augmented reality content since 2017. That’s when the company started using the iPhone and iPad—and their AR-enabled rear camera arrays—as a spawning ground for AR developers who could create experiences for a future app marketplace for AR glasses. As a result of that groundwork, Apple’s AR glasses could see an immediate wave of high-quality apps on release.
It’s harder to picture that situation with VR, so one is left wondering why Apple would focus on VR instead of AR to start when the groundwork is there for AR. And Apple is way behind in VR. The company made a half-hearted foray into VR with barebones HTC Vive support within Final Cut Pro and some other tools alongside the launch of the iMac Pro, but little was heard of that feature again.
Apple has surprised us before. But it is clear the tooling, partners, and ecosystem around a product are often just as important as the product itself.
It is likely, even expected, that Apple is prototyping VR headsets alongside AR ones. However, prototypes aren’t required to be shipped. Instead, the R&D effort is to explore the space and the focus is still on launching an AR offering.