Apple is poised to follow Mark Zuckerberg into the metaverse with the launch of a virtual reality headset in the coming months.
The iPhone maker is expected to reveal a headset that can plunge users into computer-generated worlds in the spring, Bloomberg reported.
The headset has been in the works for years as Apple looks for its next big innovation after the success of the iPhone.
Apple’s plans for a virtual reality headset will draw comparisons to Mr Zuckerberg’s decision to rebrand Facebook as Meta and invest billions in research into so-called metaverse technologies.
Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, has previously poured scorn on Zuckerberg’s metaverse concept.
He told Dutch media in October: “I always think it’s important that people understand what something is and I’m not really sure the average person can tell you what the metaverse is.”
Apple is always extremely tight-lipped about any future product launches, although rumours have circulated for years that it is working on a virtual reality headset.
The company’s device, expected to look like a pair of ski goggles, is rumoured to enable so-called “mixed reality,” meaning it will be capable of full virtual reality and augmented reality, where virtual images are overlaid over the real world.
The headset has been delayed multiple times. Bloomberg reported it had been pencilled in for a reveal this month, but that has now been pushed back into the spring.
The Information previously reported Apple’s headset would include a battery pack that is worn on the waist, making the goggles lighter than those of rivals.
Several major developers have already had a first look at the device. It will come with a new operating system, called xrOS. The headset could be called the Reality Pro and go on sale later in 2023.
Ming Chi-Kuo, an analyst who covers Apple for investment manager TF Securities, said: “Apple’s headset development is behind schedule ... it is increasingly unlikely that Apple will hold a media event for the new device in January.”
Meta’s rebrand from Facebook has been met with scepticism, with its share price crumbling as it invests tens of billions of dollars in Zuckerberg’s metaverse concept.
The company has launched multiple virtual reality headsets. While its Quest devices have proved popular with technology fans, they are not yet essential gadgets.
Meta has developed games and virtual worlds for its headset, but its metaverse social network, Horizon Worlds, has remained barren and unpopular.
Apple has already released multiple augmented reality tools for its iPhone and iPad devices, which layer virtual images and effects over the real world.