Apple’s ‘mixed reality’ headset is coming this year as Tim Cook hurries next big product, report says

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Apple is hurrying along development of the “mixed reality” headset that will represent its first big release in years, according to a new report.

The company has long been rumoured to be working on its own headset, that will allow virtual objects to be overlaid onto the real world. The product has been in development for seven years – twice as long as the iPhone.

Rumours have suggested that it is expected to be revealed as soon as June, when Apple usually holds its Worldwide Developers Conference.

And chief executive Tim Cook is hurrying along development to ensure the product is ready for this year, according to a report in the Financial Times. The project has been subject to several days that have caused tension within Apple, and some believe it should be delayed again before its 2023 release date, it said.

Mr Cook has decided to press ahead with an earlier version of the headset that will represent the first major product to be created without Steve Jobs’s input, it said.

Apple’s last big hardware product was the Apple Watch – which was released in 2015, after Jobs’s death in 2011, but included his input.

As such, the release and its timing will be a test of Apple under Mr Cook and a chance for the chief executive to guarantee his legacy, the report said.

It also comes amid increasing pressure on the company to prove that it is able to keep creating new hardware products on par with the iPhone.

At least in its first years, the headset is expected to sell less than the iPhone or even the Apple Watch, however. Apple is planning to sell about a million of them in the first year it is released, the report said.

It is expected to sell for around $3,000, in part because it will contain an array of cameras and advanced displays. At that price, the headset’s appeal may initially be limited to developers and others looking to prepare new apps for the technology before it goes fully mainstream.

Pushing ahead for a launch this year means that Mr Cook is siding with Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operations officer, the FT reported. Apple has been reshuffled in recent years, so that Apple’s design business reports to Mr Williams.