Apple’s Headset Named Reality Pro or Reality One

Bloomberg’s resident all-things-Apple guru, Mark Gurman, believes that Apple’s upcoming mixed reality (MR) headsets is likely to be called either the Reality Pro or Reality One. None of that really adds any significance to whether the product itself will capture the imagination of consumers and it seems that a lot of the theorizing behind Apple’s approach to the gaining traction for the product lies in the expectation that it will follow the same trajectory as the Apple Watch.

Apple is taking a scattershot approach to the upcoming Reality headset’s features, hoping that a wide variety of options will get consumers to try the product. 

Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

How Apple Watch was Launched

There’s probably good reason to assume that Apple’s headset will mimic the Apple Watch at launch because there was some uncertainty about how the product would be received. When Apple launched the Apple Watch in April 2015, it was positioned as a groundbreaking product that aimed to transform how people interacted with technology, much as Apple is now doing with positioning its headset. The company invested substantial effort and resources in promoting the device, treating its launch with the same excitement and anticipation as other major product releases in Apple’s history.

During the development process, Apple explored various app concepts and approaches to determine the most effective ways to capitalize on the Apple Watch’s unique capabilities. The company collaborated with third-party developers to create a wide range of apps for the watchOS platform, which powers the Apple Watch. In the beginning, Apple aimed to offer a diverse set of functionalities, including fitness tracking, communication, and productivity tools. However, as user feedback was collected and analyzed, the company started to refine its focus on certain key aspects. Health and fitness tracking emerged as a central feature of the Apple Watch experience, with elements like Activity Rings, Workouts, and Heart Rate monitoring becoming integral to the device.

Apple also continued to improve the watchOS platform through iterative updates, enabling developers to create more sophisticated apps and provide users with a smoother experience. Over time, various enhancements were introduced, such as the App Dock, Siri improvements, and deeper integration with iPhones, further increasing the utility and appeal of the Apple Watch. So, it’s probably fair to assume that what worked for the Watch will work for the headset.

Throwing the Kitchen Sink at Apple’s Headset

This time, despite months, if not years, of speculation, it appears that Apple is going to throw up a lot of potential uses for its headset and see what sticks with consumers. Gurman speculates that the headset will feature compatibility with most existing iPad apps, blending AR and VR experiences. It will include a new Wellness app, gaming options, and support for third-party apps with minimal modifications. The headset will offer live sports streaming, virtual meeting rooms with realistic avatars, and collaboration tools like virtual whiteboards. Additionally, users can expect a VR-focused Fitness+ experience and immersive video watching capabilities in various virtual environments. The device will offer multiple interaction options, such as hand and eye control, Siri, and integration with connected Apple keyboards or controls from other Apple devices.

On top of all this, there will be a development kit and an xrOS to drive new apps and services. We have already talked about the fact that Apple can’t defy the laws of physics so it is very, very hard to imagine how it will actually overcome the technical limitations, and problems of almost all AR and VR headsets on the market. So, it may be that Apple really believes that the mere enabling of applications and services, and the existence of an Apple platform will be enough to create a wave of must-have uses which will eventually lead to broader consumer adoption as future headset hardware evolves to be more accommodating to the needs of the mass market.

All of that is logical, and possible, but Apple isn’t the first company to try the brute force approach to AR/VR/MR headsets. Microsoft Sony, and Meta have spent a serious amount of money trying to do the same thing. None has found that mass market or made an impact in the way that they would have expected. If any of these companies were not so invested in using a brute force approach to creating an AR/VR/MR market, their products would have been shut down many, many years ago. Maybe there is a future where human interaction with machines is done through gestures, and displays are predominantly near-eye ones. That future seems to be the common theme for the investments being made by these enormous tech companies. They just seem to have no basis in user demand or user benefits. In other words, who is going to think that they wanted a headset when they haven’t asked for one? The Apple Watch isn’t a comparison. It’s a another portal into an existing experience, one found on a smartphone. It replaces an armband pouch with a smartphone push into it at the gym. It’s a hands-free, leisurely fitted alternative to carrying a brick around with you. A headset doesn’t sound like it does anything but add more headaches to your mobile experience. Literally.