According to respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple's long-rumoured mixed reality headset, which will reportedly offer a mix of virtual and augmented reality experiences, "will likely launch in January 2023."
In a new analyst note from 9to5Mac, Kuo states that the headset is "the most complicated product Apple has ever created," but that its launch could help spur "rapid growth" in the head-mounted display market.
This is far from the first time Kuo predicted Apple's headset could release, but previous predictions have had far more expansive release windows. Last year he said we might see the headset released at some point in 2022 (which now seems unlikely), and just this month he predicted that a release could come at some point in the second quarter of next year. Though this doesn't guarantee a January announcement, as Apple's plans could change, or Kuo's supply chain sources could be wrong, listing a specific month is a strong show of confidence from the analyst, as per The Verge.
It also coincides with much-reported activity around headsets at Apple. The company's board of directors reportedly tested the headset in early May, mentions of the headset's RealityOS software appear in Apple code and appear in trademarked apps, and Apple CEO Tim Cook said he recently teased upcoming augmented reality announcements.
Numerous reports over the years have tried to shed some light on Apple's elusive headsets. It will supposedly work as a standalone device rather than having to be plugged into a computer. Also, it could have up to 14 cameras to track its movement, according to a recent report in The Information.
Internally, it'll reportedly have a processor with a similar amount of processing power to M1 chips found in recent Macs, though when it comes to power it's unclear whether its battery will be wearable on the user's body, or built into the headset itself, as per The Verge.
While Kuo predicts Apple will make a splash in the mixed reality headset space, it is expected from its main competitor Meta to take a step back, reports 9to5Mac. Kuo expects the company formerly known as Facebook to scale back its short-term investments in virtual reality hardware to focus on its advertising business. That's despite Meta recently showing off a number of VR headset prototypes it's working on.