Google AR/VR headset release date predictions, price, specs, and must-know features

Almost 10 years have passed since Google’s last take on AR - Google Glass. Now, the tech giant seems to be gearing up for the release of a new AR/VR headset, codenamed “Project Iris”. Given that Apple already released an AR/VR headset of its own (the Apple Vision Pro, unveiled last year at WWDC 2023, and now available for purchase), Google will be facing some stiff competition. 

Rumors about Google's Project Iris are conflicting. Some sources suggest Google has shelved the project to work with Samsung on an AR-focused headset. Conversely, there are signs that Google is actively progressing with Project Iris. Here, we've compiled all the available information on this rumored Google device into one comprehensive overview.

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Google AR/VR headset: What is it?

In brief, Google is venturing into dedicated hardware with an AR/VR headset. Currently, the device is in its early stages of development, so the information we have is preliminary and subject to change.

Multiple sources have confirmed that Google is preparing to launch an AR/VR headset. Both market analysts and reliable leakers seem to agree that Google is strategically making its move into the AR/VR market. This positions the tech giant to compete with major rivals like Meta and Apple in the evolving landscape of augmented and virtual reality.

Notably, the New York Times covered the company’s plans for producing an AR/VR headset in an article of their own back in December 2021. Additionally, job openings on Google’s website revealed that the tech giant is recruiting experts for the development of an “innovative AR device”. The biggest scoop on the Google AR/VR Headset comes in the form of an article published by the Verge some time ago based on internal information disclosed by two anonymous Google employees.

According to the article, the Google AR/VR headsetuses outward-facing cameras to blend computer graphics with a video feed of the real world, creating a more immersive, mixed reality experience than existing AR glasses”.

Although some rumors suggest that Google killed the project, the AR/VR headset might still be in the game. Just recently, an analysis of the latest .apk file, which is what Android apps run on, reveals traces mentioning Project Iris. This suggests that Project Iris might still be under consideration.

Google AR/VR headset release date

Insiders are currently anticipating the launch of the Google AR/VR headset in 2024, according to reports from The Verge. However, experts caution that it's still too early to nail down a definite release date. 

Given the earlier speculation about whether the device will be released at all, it's best to approach any release date predictions with a grain of salt for now.

The Verge's report sheds light on challenges faced by project Iris, including layoffs and strategic shifts, especially since Google's VR/AR leader, Clay Bavor, departed from the company. Notably, Kurt Akeley, previously associated with the project, has updated his LinkedIn status to "retired." With these uncertainties, a concrete release date remains elusive.

A launch in 2024 is possible, but somewhat optimistic, as even if the project did not get canceled, the Google AR/VR headset should be still in its relatively early phases of development.

As of July 2022, Google is reportedly already field-testing its headset. The company has distributed a limited number of prototype units under a strict veil of secrecy. This leak was originally published by the Verge and you can read our dedicated coverage on the matter here.

Google AR/VR headset price

Given the limited details on the hardware specifications of the Google AR/VR headset, accurately predicting its final price is challenging. The overall cost will depend largely on production expenses and the level of investment Google puts into research and development for this project.

A price in the range of the Oculus headset lineup (around $300-400) appears improbable. A more realistic expectation is a pricing tier similar to the Apple Vision Pro, commencing at $3,499. It seems reasonable to anticipate that the Google AR/VR headset will fall somewhere within these benchmarks, likely at a more budget-friendly price.

Google VR/AR headset specification

An article from the Verge is one of our limited semi-credible sources for deducing the technical specifications of the device. According to it, the Google AR/VR headset is likely to be powered by a proprietary Google processor (possibly a Tensor) and will also likely be running on a custom operating system, created by Google specifically for the device.

In May 2022 we learned about Google’s acquisition of Raxium, a tech startup that specializes in MicroLED technologies. The latter, because of its ability to facilitate displays that are high in quality, yet small and energy-efficient, is perfectly suited for use in VR and AR headsets. The deal was intentionally kept under the radar, with Google disclosing little information about the specifics.

A recent article asserts that one of the major features of Google's headset is going to be cloud streaming. According to the source, "Google is considering using cloud streaming to compute AR content to get around technical limitations like limited processing power". 

Recently, Google partnered with Magic Leap, an augmented reality company, likely to collaborate on its AR glasses, so we anticipate more details to emerge soon.

Google AR/VR headset comparisons

As previously mentioned, the Apple Vision Pro, unveiled at WWDC 2023, is already available in the US. If Google does launch its own AR/VR headset, Apple could prove to be one of its toughest competitors in the market.

In addition to Apple’s device, there are already a number of established leaders in the AR/VR market with which Google will have to compete. Most notably, Google will have to compete with the Meta Quest Pro - previously known as Project Cambria - one of the most advanced (and costly) mainstream VR headsets to date. 

Last year saw the launch of Meta's Quest 3, further intensifying the battle for dominance in the AR/VR space. Rumors are circulating about a potential collaboration between Google and Samsung on an AR/VR headset, indicating a possible joint strategy to tackle the fierce competition. 

While there are other less prominent competitors in the AR/VR space, including offerings from companies like HTC, the real giants Google should keep an eye on are Apple and Meta. These two tech powerhouses, with their significant presence and resources, pose substantial competition in the AR/VR headset arena.

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