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February 5, 2021
Apple’s dual-8K, $3,000 VR headset?
Apple MacBook Air M1 close up of logo
Gary Sims / Android Authority

There’s new reporting on Apple’s VR headset. Last we heard in a Bloomberg report on Jan 21 this year, the headset codenamed N301 was going to be a niche precursor to mainstream AR headsets.

Now The Information has fresh information on specs and a price tag that will blow your socks off.

The details:

  • The reporting includes revelations that the headset will feature dual 8K screens, one for each eye, LiDAR sensors, and next-level eye-tracking. 
  • More than one version Apple is looking at includes over a dozen cameras, for hand tracking, and live feeds of the space around for passthrough mixed/augmented reality.
  • The LiDAR sensors can help map placements around, and help to deliver accurate shadows, occlusions, and place 3D objects naturally.
  • There’s also reporting around the swappable headbands, and an outward display so other people can see what you’re looking at, supposedly.
  • Running two 8K displays at between 90-120FPS to make a good VR experience will need horsepower — supposedly a turbo-powered M1 chipset will supply that. As fast as is, it’s not really a GPU monster, meaning Apple has more breakthrough hardware around the corner?
  • And loads more details about fabrics and eye-tracking — but the fun is that Apple has considered a potential $3,000 price tag.

Hmm:

  • In short, there’s a healthy mix of skepticism here. 8K per eye does sound great, but does this sound like an Apple product release, and are the technical hurdles realistically able to be overcome?
  • Apple also doesn’t offer developer APIs for VR, while it does offer expansive AR APIs.
  • Add in that Apple CEO Tim Cook has always, when speaking publicly, talked about VR being isolating, and pointed at AR being Apple’s focus when saying he was “excited” about AR (Business Insider)

What could it be?

  •  Is it not VR but AR? Or is it all focused at developers, and not really for personal tech use?
  • That’s where $3,000 would be seen as a business expense to start working on apps and tools for a mixed reality headset.
  • Regardless, VR/AR/XR are all missing a killer app, as fun as BeatSaber is, the likes of Minecraft Earth struggled to turn obvious ideas (Minecraft, but in real life!) into any kind of lasting fun experience.
Roundup

💓 Google tool coming for measuring heart and respiratory rate with just a smartphone — but a Pixel-exclusive initially (Android Authority).

🤔 Xiaomi’s new concept phone has a waterfall display on all four edges, and is portless. (Android Authority). Here’s one of my colleague’s reactions as a meme (KnowYourMeme).

🚫 Looks like Huawei’s US ban isn’t going away under the Biden administration: “no reason” why the firm shouldn’t remain on the US Entity List (Android Authority).

🔒 Google may be mulling an Apple-like anti-tracking privacy feature for Android (Android Authority).

📸 A new company promises your smartphone camera bump will be much smaller with its tech: a single lens made of nanostructures to replace the current multi-lens approach? (Android Authority).

🔋 Deep dive (drive?) with the new electric Ford Mustang Mach-E: super interesting look at Ford’s coming EV (The Verge). And here’s another too: Ford Mustang Mach-E review: The people’s pony goes electric, but this early non-GT version isn’t super exciting to drive (Ars Technica).

🍎 “How Apple’s M1 MacBook changed my mind about the next iPad”: iPad-MacBook merger gets closer, but iPadOS still limiting (CNET).

⛔ Google delists the popular Chrome extension The Great Suspender for containing malware, and disabled the extension. Lost any tabs? Here’s a guide. (Gizmodo).

😥 Diablo IV and Overwatch 2 aren’t launching this year: big sequels we’ll be waiting for (The Verge).

🛫 Boeing’s F-15EX with ‘digital backbone’ completes its first test flight, replacing older F-15 Eagles with a “cheaper” option than the F-35 jets (Engadget).

🚴‍♀️ ELI5: “On a cellular level, how does exercise make us healthy or improve our health?” (r/explainlikeimfive)

Friday Fun 🏌️‍♂️
golf moon
NASA / JSC / ASU / Andy Saunders

Remastered images appear to have revealed how far Apollo 14 astronaut Alan Shepard hit a golf ball on the Moon, 50 years ago this week (Ars Technica/BBC).

  • Great story here of how Shepard prepared for the golf expedition (practicing while wearing his 200-pound spacesuit at a golf course in Houston), and well told.
  • And, amazingly, how good the images captured on the Moon really are, 50 years later:
  • “You can access Apollo imagery to very high quality online,” said Apollo historian and video editor W. David Woods. “These shots were taken at 55 millimeters, the negatives and transparencies, for 55 millimeters a side. The scans they’ve done on them that are available online are 11,000 pixels across. So they’re enormous, huge pictures that you can really dive into, if you’ve got expertise in image processing.”
  • (I do not! But I’m glad others do for history like this.)

Have a great weekend,

Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor.

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