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New Details Emerge About Apple’s Mixed-Reality Headset

If you’re into virtual reality, you were probably focused on the news coming out of 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 very deliberately did not announce it at CES.

More leaks emerged this week about Apple’s upcoming mixed-reality headset. A report by The Information outlined a bunch of new details about the most eagerly anticipated wearable in years. According to unnamed Apple insiders working on the project, there’s a bevy of features coming to the ski-goggle-shaped device. Some of them, like foveated rendering and pass-through views, are also found in competing headsets like the Meta Quest Pro and Sony’s imminent PS VR2. But Apple’s headset is aiming to be lighter than the Quest Pro and more maneuverable than either competitor.

Internal sensors automatically adjust the 8K visuals (4K for each eyeball) to fit users’ unique facial features. Some of the features also seem aimed at making the experience of wearing a headset feel less like being hermetically sealed in a digital silo by yourself. Cameras inside can translate your facial expressions to a display on the outside of the device. An Apple Watch–esque dial on the side lets you quickly switch between VR views and color views of the real world around you. Much to Meta’s chagrin, Apple’s headset might even be able to capture leg movements.

The leaks also exposed some limitations. Bluetooth buds not made by Apple reportedly won’t sync well with the headset. There’s no headphone jack, so you’ll either need AirPods or one of the headset’s bands with speakers Apple is apparently developing. And while there’s no hint of a release date, production of the device has reportedly been pushed back several times. Apple could be poised to announce the device later this year.

Here’s some other consumer tech news.

Apple Reportedly Cancels iPhone SE

According to Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst with TF International Securities, Apple might not be making a new iPhone SE. Citing supply chain issues and lower sales of the midrange phone compared to iPhone Pro models, Kuo says Apple may choose to delay or simply not release a new iPhone SE this year.

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

Google Maps, Where Y’at?

Hey, did you know you can use Google Maps while you’re driving? OK, yes, this is a core feature of Google’s GPS app, but now the company is introducing something a little different for certain vehicles. Google is allowing car companies to implement its HD Maps software in their onboard navigation software. It’s not Google Maps per se, but it is a sort of bedrock system that underpins the car’s tech. So far, Volvo and Polestar have said they will be utilizing Google’s HD Map system.

We Live at CES Now

It’s impossible to keep typing this news roundup without getting into CES. WIRED was at the giant consumer tech event in person for the first time since 2020, and our reporters were able to go hands-on with all the weird and wacky tech on display.

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