New report says nearby iPhone not needed to set up and use Apple's mixed-reality headset

New report says nearby iPhone not needed to set up and use Apple's mixed-reality headset
One of the many questions about Apple's upcoming mixed reality headset (which could be named the "Reality Pro") is whether the device would need to be in the presence of an iPhone to set up and operate. For example, those with an Apple Watch need an iPhone to set up the timepiece. In the early days of the Apple Watch, an iPhone had to be nearby because the timnepiece would offload complex processing tasks to the processor powering the handset.

Report says iPhone is not needed to set up and use Apple's mixed reality headset

Eventually, Apple was able to power up the device so that it could run on its own without depending on the chip inside an iPhone to handle heavy-duty tasks. The company expects its mixed-reality headset to follow the path of the Apple Watch.

In today's edition of Mark Gurman's Power On newsletter, the Bloomberg scribe writes that the Reality Pro probably won't require that an iPhone be nearby during the setup process or to handle complex tasks that require more processing power than available on-device. That might be due to the powerful M2 chip that will reportedly be used on the headset. Gurman says that the latest test versions of the mixed reality device don't require that an iPhone be nearby.

Speaking about the M2 chipset, Gurman says that the component is not powerful enough to deliver graphics at a level that would satisfy the crew in Cupertino. As a result, group FaceTime chats will show realistic VR images of two people in the chat, not everyone in the call. Originally, Apple wanted to include a separate hub that could wirelessly beam additional processing power to the headset across a room. But former Apple design chief Jony Ive 86'd the idea and now the plan is to add a more powerful M3 or M4 chipset to the sequel.

Gurman notes that a user's content and iCloud data can come directly from the cloud. Data from an iPhone or iPad can be transferred to the Reality Pro using the same simple steps that are used when setting up a new Apple device. Interestingly, the Reality Pro does not use a remote control but instead uses the eyes and hands of the person donning the headset. Even more exciting, Gurman notes that the latest test version of the Reality Pro allows text to be inputted via in-air typing although it has been unreliable in testing.

If the in-air-typing isn't perfectly usable when the Reality Pro is first released, Apple could suggest pairing the device to an iPhone in order to use the latter's virtual keyboard while continuing to work on improving the feature. The Reality Pro is rumored to debut at this June's WWDC Developers Conference and ship toward the end of this year, possibly alongside the iPhone 15 line during the third quarter.

The Reality Pro will use a digital crown to transition users between VR and AR

For those not able or not happy with the idea of spending up to $3,000 for the Reality Pro, a cheaper version of the headset could be offered by Apple by the end of 2024 or the beginning of 2025. The name of this model could be the "Reality One." The initial "Pro" model could sport as many as 12 cameras and offer advanced head and eye tracking sensors, support for spatial audio, and a 4K micro-LED display for each eye.

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A Digital Crown (similar in design to the one found on the Apple Watch) will be used to seamlessly transition users from the immersive world of Virtual Reality (with realistic simulations of certain environments) to Augmented Reality. The latter shows a real-world feed from one of the headset's cameras with computer-generated data superimposed on top.

Originally planned to be introduced early this year, issues with mechanical component drop tests and the lack of software development tools have led Apple to delay the introduction and release of its mixed reality headset according to TF International analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

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