Apple has pushed back the targeted launch date for a new mixed-reality headset from April to June, according to Bloomberg, in the latest setback for the tech giant, which has not launched a major new product line since the Apple Watch in 2015.
Apple developers are now reportedly hoping to unveil the headset at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference, after calling off a spring launch due to persistent issues in testing.
The most pressing problems still being worked on are sensor issues involving the eye and hand control mechanism, along with battery life, according to Bloomberg.
The headset is expected to offer a mix of full virtual reality and augmented reality—which overlays digital information onto a users’ real-world experience—and will reportedly utilize a new operating system similar to an iPhone interface.
Numerous concerns have also been raised about the headset’s rumored $3,000 price tag, which Bloomberg reports is a byproduct of using expensive materials like numerous cameras and 4K displays.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Forbes.
Some within the company are reportedly concerned about the market Apple is entering, given the tens of billions Meta has invested in the metaverse and virtual reality with little commercial success. Apple CEO Tim Cook has publicly criticized the headset approach of Meta and other big tech companies, saying last year, “I’m really not sure the average person can tell you what the metaverse is.” Cook has instead predicted augmented reality will be the true game changer, calling it “a profound technology that will affect everything.” Apple executives are betting on the headset being the company’s biggest new revenue source since its smartwatch launched, though it’s hoping tweaks to some of its longtime staple products could also boost sales. Bloomberg reported last month the company is working to launch a touch-screen MacBook, despite company co-founder and longtime CEO Steve Jobs being adamantly opposed to the idea prior to his death in 2011.
The major difference between the augmented reality Cook is pushing and the virtual reality experience Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has promoted is that users are still fully aware of their real-life environment in augmented reality, where they interact with virtual components a headset places over their real space. Virtual reality is completely separate from the real environment, immersing a headset user in a digital world. Meta’s headsets offer both virtual and augmented reality experiences, but Zuckerberg has repeatedly said he sees a largely virtual metaverse–envisioned as essentially a broad collection of virtual worlds–as a revolutionary technical innovation that the company will be a pioneer in developing.
Apple has also repeatedly pushed back the launch date for an autonomous vehicle it has spent years developing in a secretive project, with 2026 the latest rumored target for release. The company reportedly scrapped plans last year for its car to run without a steering wheel or pedals.
By Nicholas Reimann, Forbes Staff