Apple, supposedly, has been working on some sort of augmented reality, virtual reality, or mixed reality wearable for several years now, though much of what's currently known about the project is conflicting and unclear.
The latest report on the subject, however, is attempting to explain Apple's mysterious development process.
Mirroring what previous reports have said, Bloomberg said Apple’s AR and VR team is lead by Mike Rockwell, and that, at the moment, there are two wearables in development. The first, codenamed N421, is a pair of Siri-powered AR glasses. The second, codenamed N301, is a mixed reality headset that combines both AR and VR, and it's apparently ruffling a lot of feathers internally at Apple.
Here's where we get new information: Bloomberg suggests the N301 was meant to be an enormously powerful headset with high-end graphics and processing speeds. But that hardware produced too much heat; the technology didn't fit into a lightweight, standalone headset. So, Rockwell’s team came up with an external device that would "connect the headset to a wireless signal".
An early version could work as a standalone device when placed into a less-powerful mode, however.
Apple’s former design chief, Jony Ive, reportedly didn't like the external device idea, and he preferred that Rockwell's team develop a less powerful headset. He supposedly thought the N421 AR glasses were a more superior project, too, and Apple CEO Tim Cook agreed with him. There was apparently a lot of tension over this for months behind the scenes at the company.
Currently, as it stands, Apple is developing a less powerful but still pretty advanced headset that features ultra-high-resolution screens, a cinematic system, and possibly a remote, all of which will make it hard for a wearer to discern the virtual world from the real world. It'll look like Facebook’s Oculus Quest, complete with a mostly fabric body, and it'll run Siri and have its own app store.
There will be games, video streaming apps, and video conferencing solutions. Rockwell’s team has over 1,000 working on the project. Bloomberg said it could even be announced in 2021 and released in 2022, but the N421 AR glasses won't arrive until at least 2023.