Is Apple Averse to the Metaverse?

Unlike some companies, Apple is not jumping onto the metaverse bandwagon. Instead, its new augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) headset is intended for a more mindful gaming experience. Is Apple really focusing on the user for their headset design, or is there a darker theme of the metaverse that they are trying to avoid? 

Background: Current Metaverse Headset Trends

There are many companies that sell VR headsets, but the biggest name by far is Facebook or Meta. After buying Oculus, Facebook developed new headsets like the Quest 2. The Quest 2 headset can connect a user to Facebook’s Horizon Worlds metaverse platform. There, individuals. can play games, host parties, or even go to church.

Facebook is currently working on the update for the Quest 2 headset, which they have nicknamed Project Cambria. While little is known about the upgraded headset, Facebook has revealed that the new equipment will have a real-time face and eye tracking, allowing a better reflection of a user’s facial expressions onto their avatar. It will be no surprise that Project Cambria will have a metaverse connection, as Facebook is one of the biggest champions of the metaverse.

Analysis: Apple’s VR Headset

In contrast, Apple is more mindful of its users when creating headsets. Some reports have leaked that Apple’s VR headset will be designed for shorter use periods, instead of an “all-day device.” This allows users to be more aware of screen time and to talk breaks easily, helping to avoid prolonged periods of eye strain. According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, augmented reality is preferred because “This gives the capability for both of us to sit and be very present, talking to each other, but also have other things for both of us to see.”

Some experts predict that this new headset will be released in late 2022 but in small quantities. Other rumors suggest this headset will have two 8K displays and more than a dozen cameras for movement tracking. In total, the device is predicted to sell for between $1,000-$3,000. As opposed to being a strictly VR headset, Apple is planning to have a mixed medium of both VR and AR, allowing users to better interact with their surroundings and be in the present.

Outlook: Is Apple onto Something with Their Metaverse Headset?

Whether Apple is working on making headset technology more disciplined, they may also be trying to distance themselves from other headsets (specifically Facebook’s) for other reasons. The term “metaverse,” while seeming to be successful for Facebook’s branding, has mixed connotations. As the term was coined from a dystopian science-fiction novel, some individuals see the metaverse as a way to escape reality and its problems. Others see the metaverse as the next privacy issue, as many ethical questions still need to be addressed. Perhaps Apple is noticing these negative connotations and hesitancies and wants to create a device separate from these things. Or perhaps, like many good marketing strategies, it just wants to stand out.

Kenna Castleberry is a staff writer at the Debrief and the Science Communicator at JILA (a partnership between the University of Colorado Boulder and NIST). She focuses on deep tech, the metaverse, and quantum technology. You can find more of her work at her website: