Apple and Metaverse | Everything What We Know So Far
- The Metaverse is the name given to a future version of the internet that is more immersive and could have links to the real world.
- Apple may start with a high-end mixed reality headset that can be used for both virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).
- Apple doesn’t want Web3 technology to mess up its business model, which is very profitable
Apple: Tech giants see a huge opportunity in the metaverse, which is the name for a future version of the internet that is more immersive and could have links to the real world. Meta, which is owned by Facebook, has put a lot of money on the idea, as its rebranding shows. Meanwhile, Microsoft has teamed up with Meta and bought a major game publisher to gain momentum in the space.
What about Apple
The company that makes the iPhone and Mac is known for taking a unique approach to designing hardware and software. This “Think Different” philosophy is even part of its marketing. As new hardware and online worlds shape the metaverse, some of which will be built with interoperable Web3 technology like NFTs, Apple may once again go its own way.
Reports say that Apple will start its move into the metaverse with a pricey headset that connects digitally enhanced real-world use to virtual environments. Can Apple make the metaverse as popular as so many other gadgets it has made? So far, here’s what we know.
What is Apple Building
Tech media have been following Apple’s augmented reality (AR) plans for years, as the company is said to have been building in that direction since 2015. The latest rumours say that Apple will start with a high-end mixed reality headset that can be used for both virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). In the future, Apple plans to release more AR-specific hardware.
Apple’s first headset is expected to come out in 2023, according to Bloomberg. Based on trademark filings, Apple is thought to be behind the Reality One and Reality Pro names. It is expected to be a high-end device that will sell for more than $3,000. However, well-known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has predicted that it will cost between $2,000 and $2,500.
In either case, it would be a big step up from Meta’s new $1,500 Quest Pro mixed reality headset. Still, Meta’s headset gives a taste of the kinds of experiences that might be possible with a mixed reality headset that can put digital content on top of a user’s view of the real world in full colour, as well as the more lifelike interactions that the technology might make possible.
On the one hand, it’s a fully-loaded VR headset that lets you play immersive games and connect to online social platforms like Meta’s own Horizon Worlds. On the other hand, mixed reality functions can be used to interact with digital screens and models while still seeing the real world, or to make art and music with digital tools and real people.
Meta is still trying to figure out how to do this, but Apple’s first headset is said to use a powerful M2 processor from the company’s Macs and have a wider range of cameras and sensors, including ones that can accurately recreate users’ leg movements. The Information says that retina scanners will make it possible to use biometric security to log in, pay for things, and do other things.
Reports also mention a screen on the outside that would show the wearer’s facial expressions, which could drain the battery, and snap-on prescription lenses for people who wear glasses. But Apple hasn’t said anything yet, and some of the features that have been talked about might not be in the first device (or even later ones).
What about the Metaverse
The metaverse will not just work with VR and AR headsets. There are already early Web3 metaverse games and apps that run on computers and mobile devices, and this is likely to continue as more metaverse platforms appear and overlap with each other, making the internet as a whole more immersive and experience-based.
But mixed reality headsets are seen as a key step toward that future and by many as the best way to experience metaverse worlds. After all, these headsets can make people feel more immersed and capture their movements and interactions more naturally while still keeping them connected to the real world. This could be the best of both worlds.
Such hardware is useless without good software, though, and Apple knows how important it is for the two to work well together. Bloomberg says that Apple is working on a RealityOS operating system with interactive versions of apps like Maps and FaceTime, as well as ways to play games, watch videos, and work with other wearers.
We don’t know if Apple’s vision for mixed reality experiences and immersive online interactions will match what other builders are doing, but it’s very likely that Apple won’t use the buzzy term “metaverse” itself. Apple has always used its own branding, and CEO Tim Cook has said he doesn’t like the word.
“I always think it’s important that people understand what something is,” Cook told Dutch outlet Bright in September. “And I’m not sure the average person would be able to explain what the metaverse is.”
But Cook is optimistic about augmented and mixed reality tech and the ways it could be used. He told a publication, “I think AR is a powerful technology that will change everything. Imagine if you could use AR to teach and show people how to do things. Or in a medical sense, etc. Like I said, we will really look back and wonder how we ever got along without AR.
What about Web3 and Interoperability
Fans of Web3 want to see a metaverse that is built on open-source blockchain technology, uses NFTs to show ownership of digital assets, and is spread out across interoperable platforms that users can move between and still use all of their digital stuff.
Because of this, there has been worry that a few big tech companies will try to take over and steer the future of the internet in a way that they can control. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, on the other hand, said that he thinks a “open, interoperable” metaverse is “better for everyone” and that Meta will work with builders from all over the world.
Even though this isn’t a direct endorsement of Web3 technology or a promise that Meta will build a truly open metaverse platform, it is a more open-minded tone from the company than many have come to expect in the past. Will Apple do the same thing and build its own metaverse apps and experiences?
History shows that this is not true. With its locked-down iOS platform and App Store model, which takes a big cut of app and content sales from developers, Apple may be the biggest provider of the “walled garden” closed ecosystem.
This has made competitors angry, like Epic Games, which makes the game Fortnite and is fighting Apple and Google in court to open up its app ecosystems. Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games, said in November 2021 that “no company can own” the metaverse. Epic is making big moves in that area, even though it doesn’t use Web3 tech.
Recent evidence also shows that Apple doesn’t want Web3 technology to mess up its business model, which is very profitable. Apple lets App Store developers sell NFTs through their iOS apps, but Apple still takes 30% of all sales, which is more than any other leading NFT marketplace. This is a big problem for many of the ways Web3 is distributed right now.
But Apple doesn’t have to be against crypto. Many well-known cryptocurrency exchanges and wallet makers have iPhone apps that let users spend their cryptocurrency. Cook has said in the past that Apple is “looking at” cryptocurrency and that he owns cryptocurrency and has been interested in it “for a while.” Apple has also posted job openings that require people to know about cryptography.
All of this makes it hard to see how Apple could support an open metaverse that is based on Web3. Apple might decide to build the metaverse in a way that’s different from the rest of the industry, but it’s not clear if that model will continue to work as Web3 grows in popularity and open platforms become more important.
At least Zuckerberg is sure that Apple is making its own move into the metaverse. In response to an employee question in July 2022, per a transcript seen by The Verge, the Meta CEO said that it and Apple are in a “very deep, philosophical competition about what direction the internet should go in.”