What I Want from Apple's "Reality Pro" XR Device
What I Want from Apple's "Reality Pro" XR Device

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Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not reflect those of ArborXR.

After years of rumors and delays, we may be within a few months of Apple’s mythical XR device being released. I thought this device would never see the light of day. It seemed destined to go the way of the Apple Car, a much-talked-about project that got killed before the world saw it.

All the rumors are pointing towards it being announced at WWDC next month or later this year. I’ve spent a lot of time talking with co-workers and others in the XR space about what this mythical Apple device will be, and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I hope Apple will release.

What follows is what I am hoping Apple is working on. Some line up with current rumors, and some diverge from it. I have worked exclusively on Mac laptops for over a decade and have spent the last six years in the XR industry.

Meta Quest Pro

A New Class of XR Device

Apple loves taking an existing class of device and redefining it. Just look at the iPhone with smartphones, the Apple Watch with smartwatches, and the start of personal computing. Many are expecting their XR device to redefine the industry. I don’t think this will (or should) happen.

There will still be a use case for the current class of VR devices like the Meta Quest 2, Pico Neo 4, and HTC Vive XR Elite. However, they will serve a very different use case and have a very different price point. They will continue to be standalone VR display-based headsets that are more useful for gaming and training that lack total immersion.

Meta Quest Gaming

Not a Gaming Platform

Apple has always had a tenuous relationship with video games and gamers. Steve Jobs actively avoided any focus on gaming, the Mac team seems set to make it difficult for game development on macOS, and only recently the iOS team has had attention on gaming.

Today’s breakout consumer uses for XR are almost all gaming related, from Beat Saber on the Meta Quest to Pokemon Go on your phone. So Apple has to do something different and not compete directly with Meta’s Quest. Meta has seen that they have had to burn a lot of cash to compete with traditional gaming consoles.

Productivity Focused

With the rumors that the device will support existing iPad applications, a business app suite, and a $3,000 price tag, this device will have the most straightforward direction. Meta struggles with a $1,500 price tag for the Quest Pro. It will focus on Apple customers already buying a $3,000 MacBook Pro and a $5,000 Mac Pro.

No existing XR device is excellent for the average productivity workflow. Apple could completely change this for software developers, digital creatives, and many more industries. They’ve worked hard to make the iPad a device that can be used for any of these industries, and they’ll also bring it to XR.

Magic Leap 2

AR, not MR or VR

The current rumors are that this device will be a VR device with a high-end passthrough. Unless they’ve managed to crack the nut of high-end latency-less passthrough video, I hope this is not the case. Passthrough video always feels wonky and is less immersive than a complete AR experience. Especially at the $3,000 price tag, VR or MR seems like the wrong choice.

But AR is hard. Magic Leap has raised billions of dollars and invested it in developing AR from scratch. It’s impressive what they’ve achieved with the Magic Leap 2, but it’s not an Apple-level product today.

Apple Ecosystem

Deeply Integrated

With any new Apple device, this goes without saying; there will be deep integration with your other Apple devices and services. Apple loves a cohesive ecosystem where everything plays nicely together. It seems obvious to an XR outsider, but this is one of the significant failings in Meta’s Quest 2 and Quest Pro. Its interaction with Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram needs to be improved.

Acting as an extension of your Mac or iPad is the ideal integration point. Having seamless virtual displays and interaction with your desktop applications. Still, it shouldn’t be a mandatory connection as a tethered device, just an optional extension for better workflows.

Easy to Use

Ease of use is XR’s biggest failing to date - but one that has provided us an opportunity over at ArborXR to thrive. Using an XR device is challenging. So Apple has to make it easy.

No more cumbersome room setup. Typing with physical keyboards, not pointing with fingers. No new controllers to learn, just simple gestures. Apple needs to rethink the experience from scratch and redefine what it means to use XR.


Only Time Will Tell

I don’t have a ticket to WWDC, so I will watch the live stream from home like everyone else, but I am excited to see what Apple releases! No matter what they release, it will make a splash one way or another. Or maybe it will get killed right before anyone sees it.

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