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    What to expect at WWDC 2023: Reality Pro, iOS 17, and new MacBooks / ArsTechnica · 6 days ago - 21:05

Futuristic glass-walled building permits views of surrounding forest.

Enlarge / Inside the Steve Jobs Theater building at Apple's headquarters. (credit: Samuel Axon)

Apple's 2023 Worldwide Developer Conference is just a few days away—it kicks off with a keynote on Monday, June 5. That keynote will be livestreamed (we'll liveblog it, too), and it's expected to be a doozy.

The WWDC keynote isn't always the most exciting for non-developers, as it usually focuses on iOS updates rather than exciting new hardware. There have been exceptions, though, and next week's event will surely be one of them. Apple is expected to finally unveil its rumored mixed reality headset, which has taken a long and winding path to market.

That will be the main focus, but there will be interesting new developments on the iPhone, Mac, and Watch. Here's what to expect from the WWDC keynote next week.

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    Apple’s WWDC 2023 keynote will take place on June 5 / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 29 March - 18:46

A rainbow of color bands above a WWDC logo

Enlarge / Apple's first promotional image for WWDC 2023. (credit: Apple)

Apple will host its 34th annual Worldwide Developers Conference at its Cupertino, California, headquarters from Monday, June 5 through Friday, June 9, the company announced on Wednesday.

The conference will kick off with "a special all-day event," inclusive of the customary keynote presentation and the platform State of the Union talks. The language on Apple's website suggests that like last year, some or all of those will be presented in prerecorded video form rather than as a live on-stage presentation.

After that first day, Apple will likely host various panels on how developers can work with the company's developer toolkits and APIs to support new and old features across the various Apple platforms.

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    Meta Quest Pro sees 33 percent price drop after less than five months / ArsTechnica · Monday, 6 March - 16:06 · 1 minute

The Meta Quest Pro.

Enlarge / The Meta Quest Pro.

When we reviewed the Meta Quest Pro headset less than five months ago , we balked at the device's $1,500 price point, which represented a whopping 275 percent price premium over the Quest 2 (with much less than a 275 percent increase in quality). Meta is already taking steps to scale back that massive asking price, though; as of Sunday, the headset is now available for $1,000 in the US and Canada (a similar price drop will take place March 15 in other Quest Pro countries).

The price drop puts the Quest Pro in line with other high-end headsets, including the untethered $1,100 HTC Vive XR Elite and the $1,000 Valve Index (which requires tethering to a gaming PC). That said, for practically the same money, you can get a $550 PSVR2 and the $500 PlayStation 5 to tether it to. And the Quest Pro is still 150 percent more expensive than the cheapest Quest 2, which supports almost all the same software and delivers a sufficient VR experience for most users.

Speaking of the Quest 2, Meta has also announced a 14 percent price drop for the 256GB version of that headset, from $500 to $430. That price drop brings that expanded-storage option almost all the way back to the $400 that Meta was charging for it before last year's unprecedented price increase .

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    Meta’s hardware plans include thinner Quest this year, ad-supported AR in 2027 / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 1 March - 17:09

The Meta Quest Pro at a Best Buy demo station in October 2022.

Enlarge / The Meta Quest Pro at a Best Buy demo station in October 2022.

The next Meta Quest headset, planned for launch this year, will be thinner, twice as powerful, and slightly more expensive than the Quest 2. That's according to a leaked internal hardware roadmap presentation obtained by The Verge that also includes plans for high-end, smartband-controlled, ad-supported AR glasses by 2027.

The "Quest 3" will also include a new "Smart Guardian" system that lets users walk around safely in "mixed reality," according to the presentation. That will come ahead of a more "accessible" headset, codenamed Ventura, which is planned for a release in 2024 at "the most attractive price point in the VR consumer market."

That Ventura description brings to mind John Carmack's October Meta Connect keynote , in which he highlighted his push for a "super cheap, super lightweight headset" targeting "$250 and 250 grams." Carmack complained that Meta is "not building that headset today, but I keep trying." Months later, Carmack announced he was leaving the company , complaining that he was "evidently not persuasive enough" to change the company for the better.

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    HTC’s newest headsets signal end of Vive’s 5-year “VR for the home” mission / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 11 May, 2021 - 16:00

Today's VR-centric ViveCon 2021, presented by HTC's Vive division of VR headsets, kicks off with two new headset models slated to launch this year.

That's probably the headline HTC wants VR fans to focus on—hooray, new stuff to strap to faces—but a closer examination of both headsets (and feedback directly from HTC's executive team) puts a damper on that, at least for any average consumer interested in buying either.

The Vive Focus 3 , HTC's newest "all-in-one" untethered VR headset, competes directly with the Oculus Quest 2 , but it costs a whopping $1,000 more than the Facebook-branded option, at $1,299 MSRP. And the Vive Pro 2 , a long-overdue spec bump to 2018's Vive Pro , resembles the earlier model all too much while costing either $799 by itself or $1,399 for its "full kit."

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    Apple hardware chief Dan Riccio stepped down to focus on AR/VR / ArsTechnica · Monday, 8 February, 2021 - 23:39 · 1 minute

Dan Riccio

Enlarge / Former Apple hardware engineering leader Dan Riccio. (credit: Apple )

A couple of weeks ago, Apple announced that longtime hardware engineering chief Dan Riccio will step down from his role to focus entirely on a "new project" within the company. According to yet another report at Bloomberg based on sources with knowledge of Apple's plans today, the project Riccio has focused his energies on is Apple's upcoming augmented reality, virtual reality, or mixed reality headset.

Development of an AR headset at Apple seems to have hit a snag or two under current project lead Mike Rockwell, though the report does not outline exactly which obstacles have emerged. While Rockwell will remain in charge of day-to-day work on the project, Riccio will have "ultimate oversight" over the company's AR/VR efforts, which are said to involve "well over a thousand engineers."

Riccio had already handed top-level management of most current consumer products like the iPhone to an executive named John Ternus, who Apple announced will replace Riccio as the head of hardware engineering overall. The latest news indicates that he has also handed development of new camera and display technology to Johny Srouji, the executive who spearheaded the design and engineering of Apple Silicon .

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    New report on Apple’s VR headset: 8K in each eye, potential $3,000 price tag / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 4 February, 2021 - 20:46

The "Sword of Damocles" head-mounted display, the original augmented reality headset, circa 1968. Augmented reality has gotten a lot more mobile in the past decade.

Enlarge / The "Sword of Damocles" head-mounted display, the original augmented reality headset, circa 1968. Augmented reality has gotten a lot more mobile in the past decade. (credit: Ivan Sutherland)

A new report in The Information corroborates and expands upon an earlier Bloomberg report claiming that Apple is preparing to launch a high-end VR headset as early as next year, citing unnamed people with knowledge of the product.

Among the new revelations is that the new headset will feature two 8K screens (one for each eye) and that Apple has considered a steep $3,000 price point.

The headset (which the report says is codenamed N301) will be able to display rich 3D graphics at that resolution, thanks both to an ultrafast M1 chip successor and because Apple will liberally use an already-known VR technique that involves using eye-tracking to render objects in the user's periphery at a lower fidelity than what the user is focusing on.

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    VR meetings are weird, but they beat our current reality / ArsTechnica · Sunday, 13 December, 2020 - 12:26

A virtual workspace is composed of heavily stylized floating heads and a permanent sunset.

Enlarge (credit: Arthur VR)

The Sun never sets in virtual reality. This occurred to me after an hour-long briefing in an Oculus Quest 2 headset. Joined by more than a dozen other floating avatars, we teleported our way around an “outdoor” meeting space that could only be described as aircraft-carrier-meets-Croatian-vacation.

Beyond the vast expanse of virtual breakout spaces was a stunning sunset, but the day never grew dark. When I pressed a button on the Touch Controller a tad too long, I ended up standing unnervingly close to another avatar, a fellow journalist. Then I remembered that you can’t catch the coronavirus from a digital simulacrum.

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