February 3, 2023

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New details about Apple’s mixed reality headset are emerging

If you’re interested in virtual reality, chances are you’ve been focused on what’s new from CES this week. There was no shortage of new augmented reality glasses and virtual reality headsets. But the biggest AR VR news came from a company that deliberately didn’t announce it at CES.

More leaks surfaced this week about Apple’s upcoming mixed reality headset. A report from The Information outlined a slew of new details about the most anticipated wearable in years. According to unnamed Apple insiders working on the project, the ski goggle-shaped device will be packed with a variety of features. Some of them, like foveated rendering and pass-through views, are also found in competing headsets like the Meta Quest Pro and Sony’s forthcoming PS VR2. But Apple’s headset aims to be lighter than the Quest Pro and more maneuverable than any competitor.

Internal sensors automatically adjust the 8K visuals (4K for each eyeball) to match users’ unique facial features. Some of the features also seem aimed at making wearing a headset feel less like being hermetically sealed in a digital silo yourself. Cameras inside can translate your facial expressions onto a display on the outside of the device. With an Apple Watch-like face on the side, you can quickly switch between VR views and color views of the real world around you. Much to Meta’s chagrin, Apple’s headset could even track leg movements.

The leaks also revealed some limitations. Non-Apple Bluetooth buds reportedly don’t sync well with the headset. There’s no headphone jack, so you’ll need either AirPods or one of the headphone straps with speakers that Apple appears to be developing. And while there’s no indication of a release date, production of the device has reportedly been pushed back several times. Apple could be ready to announce the device later this year.

Here’s some other tech news for consumers.

Apple is reportedly announcing the iPhone SE

According to Ming Chi Kuo, on analyst Apple May Not Make New iPhone SE With TF International Securities Citing supply chain issues and lower sales of the mid-range phone compared to iPhone Pro models, Kuo says Apple may delay or simply not release a new iPhone SE this year.

The SE is a decent phone, but Apple’s breathless marketing of its flagship devices has clearly withered the budget model. Either that, or people just prefer bigger phones these days. Since Apple dropped the iPhone Mini last year, it seems to have moved away from smaller, more humble options.

Google Maps, where are you?

Did you know that you can use Google Maps while driving? OK, yes, that’s a core feature of Google’s GPS app, but now the company is introducing something different for certain vehicles. Google allows automakers to implement its HD Maps software in their onboard navigation software. It’s not Google Maps per se, but it’s sort of a foundation system that underpins the car’s technology. So far Volvo and Polestar have said they will be using Google’s HD Map system.

We live at CES now

It’s impossible to continue typing this news roundup without getting into CES. WIRED was at the massive consumer tech event in person for the first time since 2020, and our reporters got to see first-hand all the weird and wacky tech on display.

This week’s Gadget Lab podcast comes straight from the heart of CES. Our on-site team gathered in a Las Vegas hotel room late at night to cut through the marketing chatter and highlight what stood out at this year’s CES.

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