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Report: Apple’s Upcoming Mixed-Reality Headset “Probably” Won’t Require an iPhone

Posted February 27, 2023 | Apple | mixed reality | Mobile | Windows

Concept image by Antonio De Rosa

Apple is currently hard at work on its first mixed-reality headset, which is expected to be officially announced at the company’s annual WWDC developer conference in June. While a lot of information about the headset has already leaked including details about its hardware and “xrOS” operating system, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman discussed the setup experience in his latest Power On newsletter.

“The company’s first mixed-reality headset, unlike the original Apple Watch, probably won’t require an iPhone for setup or use. I’m told that the latest test versions of the device and its onboard xrOS operating system can be set up without an iPhone and can download a user’s content and iCloud data directly from the cloud,” Gurman reported.

If Gurman’s information is accurate, that would indeed be quite a departure from previous Apple product launches. Nearly eight years after the launch of the original Apple Watch, consumers still need an iPhone to set up and use the latest Apple Watch models. If you’re an Android user, you’re still out of luck.

While that sounds pretty crazy, you may remember that for many years, setting up a new iPad required connecting it to iTunes on Windows or a Mac. That was already quite anachronic, especially for a device designed for the “post-PC” era that Steve Jobs had envisioned.

Anyway, Apple not requiring an iPhone to set up its mixed reality headset, which is expected to cost around $3,000, would be quite a big step forward. According to Gurman, xrOS will also support transferring personal data from an iPhone or iPad in addition to the ability to download personal data from iCloud.

The report also says that Apple is working on an in-air typing technology that would allow people wearing the headset to type text using hand gestures and eye movements. However, the feature is said to be “finicky in testing.” As an alternative, users should be able to pair an iPhone to the headset and type text using its keyboard.

If Apple’s first mixed reality headset could be released before the end of 2023, Gurman believes that a cheaper version may come in 2024 at the earliest. Apple is also reportedly working on a successor to its original high-end headset with more powerful Apple Silicon, possibly a variant of upcoming M3 or M4 chips.

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