Apple’s VR Headset Could Be Coming Soon, But Will It Be Enough?
Apple is poised to unveil its first new product category in nearly a decade at the upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on June 5. The highly anticipated launch is expected to introduce Apple’s mixed reality (AR/VR) headset, potentially named the Reality Pro. While the excitement surrounding this announcement is palpable, some believe that Apple’s entry into the market may be untimely and misplaced.
Undoubtedly, the prospect of Apple venturing into a new product category is significant news for consumers, businesses (which appear to be the primary target for the headset), and competitors. The speculated cost of $3,000 and potential scarcity of the device may pose challenges for initial adoption, but the fact that Apple is entering the mixed reality space is noteworthy.
It is essential to acknowledge that Apple’s xrOS-powered headset is unlikely to be a subpar product. In fact, it is expected to surpass the offerings of Meta, HTC, and Magic Leap in terms of aesthetics and technology. The headset will likely feature high-resolution OLED screens, powerful Apple silicon, and possibly an H2 chip for exceptional audio quality. While concerns about an external battery pack may arise, the overall performance and visuals are anticipated to be stunning.
However, the concern lies in the fact that Apple has taken an extended period to enter the mixed reality category. By doing so, the company risks missing the initial wave of excitement surrounding virtual reality (VR), as evidenced by Meta’s struggles in the Metaverse. Moreover, Apple also runs the risk of being left behind in the rapid advancement of artificial intelligence (AI), with Microsoft and Google surging ahead in that domain.
Currently, society and the industry are captivated by chatbots and conversational AI. Platforms like ChatGPT, Google Bard, and Bing AI are used extensively for interactive conversations, surpassing the one-off question-and-answer format. Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant, is comparatively limited in terms of conversational capabilities. Siri, built on local machine learning leveraging Apple’s A16 Bionic chip’s neural network, differs significantly from generative AI systems based on large language models like ChatGPT.
Apple’s emphasis on local AI processing may hinder the radical advancement of Siri and its ability to compete with platforms like Bard. While a job listing for a Visual Generative Modeling Researcher Role suggests Apple’s interest in generative AI systems, it appears to be in the hiring phase rather than implementing immediate changes.
The timing challenge lies in the fact that Apple likely did not have plans for a substantial Siri update at WWDC 2023 a year or even six months ago. It simply may not have been feasible to incorporate a significant iOS 17 Siri update in time for the conference.
One possibility for Apple is to develop a compelling demonstration for the anticipated launch of the iPhone 15 lineup in September. This would provide additional development time, potentially allowing Apple to integrate OpenAI plugins and introduce ChatGPT-4 into Siri’s capabilities.
As Apple prepares for WWDC 2023, industry watchers eagerly await the unveiling of its mixed reality headset. However, concerns persist regarding the timing and potential limitations of Siri’s advancement in the face of fierce competition in the AI landscape. The conference may shed light on Apple’s plans and provide insights into its future strategies.