Now we know why Apple has ditched any additional Mac releases this year!

Finally, we have an answer as to why the most recent iPad launch was the dampest of squibs!

Tim and co. are simply too busy beavering away on a mixed-reality headset, and, according to Mark Gurman, we’re probably going to see it next year.

This has been rumoured for quite some time, but recent job listings hint at what Apple might be cooking up. One of those listings even goes as far as to reference a “3D mixed-reality world”, and it appears that Apple is also recalling several employees who had previously worked on the secretive car project for assistance with this new venture.

Clearly, they mean business with this, and we’re going to see the fruits of all that labour pretty soon. Possibly. Maybe. If everything pans out.

There’s just one problem. I’m afraid I still don’t get it. At all.

The latest Apple VR rumours

According to Mark Gurman, Apple’s mixed-reality headset is going to be priced between $2,000 to $3,000, pack a “Mac-level” M2 chip, and house over 10 cameras placed inside and outside the device.

It will likely run a brand-new operating system – potentially called ‘realityOS’ – and will be initially tasked with delivering mixed-reality versions of Apple’s core apps, including FaceTime, Maps, and Messages.

One should note, however, that there haven’t been any hardware leaks to date (none I’ve seen, anyway). There have been numerous renders from people entirely unconnected with the project, but not a single grainy, blurred photo from Apple’s secretive labs, or even a whiff of supply chain insider information.

The device powering this stuff is, therefore, a bit of a mystery. Will it look like a traditional virtual reality headset? Is it finally a pair of tech-filled spectacles that actually look like spectacles?

I have so many questions.

Now? Really?

Apple is rarely a company that jumps into new consumer tech while it’s in the “yeah, but who actually needs this?” phase. In fact, I can’t think of a single example where they’ve actually done that unless you count the Apple Watch and its incredibly weird first iteration.

Virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality – whatever you want to call it – squarely fits in that bracket. There are lots of headsets out there from which to choose already, but it is far from resting firmly within the national consciousness.

I’ve heard from plenty of people that the latest batch of VR experiences is really cool. And I’m sure that’s the case. But to experience this stuff, you have to buy an expensive computer and strap it to your face (and, often, attach it to a traditional computer to make it work). It all looks a bit 1993 and requires a significant degree of user investment if the device isn’t going to be consigned to the back of a drawer or placed immediately on eBay.

I cannot fathom why Apple would want to get involved in this now – particularly at the price point Gurman suggests.

Who in their right mind is going to drop $2,000+ on a nascent piece of unproven technology that has a completely foreign take on how one should interact with a computer operating system? It’d be a stretch at the best of times, but with deep recessions looming, it’s a colossal ask.

Obviously, I’d buy one. Immediately.

What I want from realityOS

Despite what you might think, I don’t want another Apple product to moan about. I genuinely don’t enjoy picking apart their silly decisions, because I know they’re capable of so much more.

I love being proved wrong in this regard – particularly when it results in a product I rely on so heavily. The second-generation AirPods Pro are a great example of this; I wrote them off immediately, only to fall head-over-heels in love when they arrived.

Apple’s mixed-reality stuff is a bit different. It has no forefather in Apple’s current lineup (if you ignore their dabbling with AR on the iPhone and iPad). Whatever this thing is, it isn’t a second-generation, point update, or reworking – it is entirely new.

This opens up lots of possibilities, and while I’ve always been dubious about consumer applications for VR and AR, I’m once again willing to be proved wrong.

I’ve seen some really cool demos of VR- and AR-powered workspaces recently where the face computer wearer gains access to huge, multiple, all-encompassing virtual displays without the need to clutter their desks with the hardware. I quite like this idea – particularly from a focus perspective; being able to immersive yourself in that world could bring a new meaning to the phrase ‘deep work’ – a practice I’ve relied on for years to be productive.

Virtual meetings conducted within a mixed-reality OS also excite me – particularly as I’m currently building an academy for Medium writers. Swapping platforms like Zoom for something far more interactive and akin to real-world interaction could raise engagement levels, increase collaboration, and open up so many possibilities for rich media and content.

Final word (for now)

We need something more interesting to talk about in 2023 regarding tech. Smartphones are increasingly boring, tablets desperately need a rocket placed up their backside, and Apple has completely cornered the wearable market.

Mixed reality appears to be the direction in which most tech companies are headed, and despite the many questions I have about the practicalities of introducing such products into a cash-poor society that is already digitally overwhelmed, I’m willing to give Apple a chance.

This may well be ‘the next big thing’. It still feels far too early, and if the rumoured pricing of Apple’s entry into the mixed-reality market is true, it will remain the domain of professional applications, the reviewing fraternity, and those with deep pockets.

But maybe, just maybe, Tim and co. have a surprise up their sleeve. What do you think? Get involved in the comments!

Main image courtesy of Bloomberg