Apple in 2023: AR, VR, HomePod, Mac Pro, AirPods Max

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in Future Apple Hardware
As exciting as 2022 was for new Apple products, 2023 may put it to shame with completely new and refreshed products. Here's what the rumor mill is expecting in the year to come.

A new HomePod and XR headset may be among the new products released by Apple in 2023.
A new HomePod and XR headset may be among the new products released by Apple in 2023.


Barring another global pandemic, Apple will release a new iPhone around September 2023. But, that's not what we're here to talk about.

And, like just about every other year, Apple's 2023 will bring new mainstream Mac, a new Apple Watch, and likely a refresh of at least one of the iPad models. As interesting and evolving as these new models could be they'll still be familiar in most ways.

Based on increased rumors and information stemming from the supply chain, it would seem that there are at least a few more exciting products Apple has in store for release sometime in 2023.

In 2023, there's possibly a completely new virtual reality headset with augmented reality components. Probably the most powerful Mac in the history of the company will ship, while a revived audio product may be brought back from the dead.

These, and more, are all things that have a good shot of making an appearance in the near future. Here's what we're expecting to see, based on what's bubbled out of the rumor mill.

VR/AR Headset

Apple's entire year will likely be defined by the release of its long-rumored VR headset. Whether the piece of hardware makes its debut at the beginning of the year or it hangs over all other announcements, it will tint each announcement Apple makes in 2023 in some form, until it's finally shown off.

Rumored headset render.
Rumored headset render.


It's coming sometime in 2023 -- almost certainly. But because it's a brand new device the company has the most flexibility as to when it wants to demo it to the public.

Basically, there's too much smoke clouding the sky for this product to never make its landing.

Why is it exciting?: Eight years after the Apple Watch went on sale, Apple is on the cusp of releasing a brand new type of device in a completely new category. It's a new product that literally has the potential to change how we see the world around us.

The Meta Quest 2 has been the most popular VR headset so far, and its been a compelling introduction to virtual reality for a lot of people. But by all accounts, Apple's headset hardware is expected to far surpass the Quest 2's to offer more immersive experiences.

We'd like to imagine that a lot of Apple's technologies and services such as SharePlay, Fitness Plus, and Memoji, among many other things will make an appearance and transform our daily tasks.

Plus, it looks like Apple is closing in around using xrOS as its official name for the new mixed reality operating system. That should confirm the software will span beyond virtual reality to also include augmented reality experiences too.

Mac Pro

Because of the developer tie-in, it's likely that we'll see a New Mac Pro at WWDC in June. If not at the annual conference, then we could see it happening sooner since it's closing in on a year since Apple teased (and confirmed) a new Mac Pro's existence at its event in the spring of 2022.

Why is it exciting?: A future high-end desktop Mac Pro with Apple Silicon packed inside will be hard for any technology enthusiast to turn away from or ignore, even if most people don't need it or won't buy it.

Mac Pro with Intel processor
Mac Pro with Intel processor


The new Mac Pro will be powerful beyond compare. The beefy Mac Studio can already be configured with an M1 Ultra processor which has a 20-core CPU and can go up to a 64-core GPU, along with 128GB of RAM.

So a new Mac Pro may be able to double that CPU performance if the UltraFusion die-to-die interconnect is used here with two Ultra chips.

There should also be plenty of design choices that will be worth picking apart for the casual observer. To finally see what "modular" means in the age of Apple Silicon, and glean insights about future Macs from the Pro's case shape and size.

And, most importantly, gawking over whether the new Mac Pro gets wheels or not.

A New HomePod

March 2023 will mark two years since Apple the original HomePod was discontinued. Almost immediately after it was killed, rumors suggested that Apple was working on a revamped model.

Those rumors have persisted and suggest that early in 2023 a new HomePod, in some form, could make an appearance. The HomePod mini could stand to be refreshed too, after all.

Why is it exciting?: Nothing is more exciting than a resurrection story -- especially for a worthy product.

The original HomePod had its flaws, but it was a good audio speaker. So much so that when Apple announced its demise, the secondary market for the device rose, rather than dwindled.

People who used the speaker really loved it.

HomePod in black and white
HomePod in black and white


A new HomePod could be transformed to include a screen for apps or widgets. It could merge with an Apple TV to be more of a soundbar.

A two-year hiatus would suggest that it will get a significant change. But even if it simply gets reworked to keep component costs down, that could be a win for people who want big sound without a massive speaker taking up space in their house.

New AirPods Max

The AirPods Max is one of the few products that doesn't have too many rumors attached to it. The biggest indicator here that a refresh is imminent is that lower-cost products in the AirPods lineup have passed the premium, high-end headphones in some technical abilities.

AirPods Max Digital Crown
AirPods Max Digital Crown


Why are they exciting?: The first AirPods Max got a lot right so an update probably won't add too much. But a slight reduction in weight could go a long way in making the over-the-ear headphones even more comfortable.

New options for ear pads could make them suitable for more tasks. Switching from a Lightning port to a USB-C port for charging would go a long way in making the headphones more practical in daily use.

In terms of technology, if there is a tie-in between AirPods and the upcoming extended reality headset, then updated hardware for the Max headphones may be needed to help lower latency between the two products.

But, most of these are rumors and whispers

The Mac Pro is coming. Apple has already said so, even if they haven't said when.

The rest are whispers and discussions, floating out of Apple's supply chain and the creative wish-filled minds of rumor merchants. We don't publish everything -- there's a lot that surfaces that isn't contextual for what's going on, or just is plain made up.

All of the rumors surrounding the above products make sense. And, with all of them there's been enough smoke suggesting something's going on.

Perhaps the fire arrives in 2023.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    2023 is shaping up to be great.   In addition, these products: 

    -  iPhone 15 Pro Max, 15 Pro, 15 Plus, 15 
    -  iPhone SE major update  
    -  Watch 9 
    -  MacBook Pro 14.2“ and 16” refreshes 
    -  MacBook Air 15” (wildcard)
    -  Mac Mini, Mac Studio, iMac 24” refreshes 
    -  Pro Display XDR refresh 
    -  iPad Air and iPad mini refresh 
    -  iPad Pro major update 

    Plus I expect there will be A LOT of new things and upgrades in their Services offerings  

    Tons of iteration.  But that is what you do to keeping growing your installed base and keeping existing customers very satisfied 
  • Reply 2 of 15
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,639member
    red oak said:
    2023 is shaping up to be great.   In addition, these products: 

    -  iPhone 15 Pro Max, 15 Pro, 15 Plus, 15 
    -  iPhone SE major update  
    -  Watch 9 
    -  MacBook Pro 14.2“ and 16” refreshes 
    -  MacBook Air 15” (wildcard)
    -  Mac Mini, Mac Studio, iMac 24” refreshes 
    -  Pro Display XDR refresh 
    -  iPad Air and iPad mini refresh 
    -  iPad Pro major update 

    Plus I expect there will be A LOT of new things and upgrades in their Services offerings  

    Tons of iteration.  But that is what you do to keeping growing your installed base and keeping existing customers very satisfied 
    That’s a lot of products requiring parts and chips that still may be in short supply, plus it’s certainly possible that they’ll be further disruptions at Foxconn.   

    I think that’s why we haven’t seen the 16” MBP with an M2 processor yet, even though Macs don’t sell that many units (Macs contribute just 14.2% of Apple’s revenue - if the average Mac is $1500, that’s about 27 million units across the line worldwide).

    So in a non-pandemic, non-chip shortage world, all that might have been possible, but in our current situation, maybe not, in spite of Apple’s huge resources. 
  • Reply 3 of 15
    JP234JP234 Posts: 789member
    All I want for 2023 is an M2 Mac Mini, so's I can get an M1 at a discount!
    MisterKitwelshdogmarc g
  • Reply 4 of 15
    I disagree on the reasoning behind the name change from realityOS to xrOS. realityOS does convey both VR and AR because reality is in both names. Maybe they just wanted a shorter name?
  • Reply 5 of 15
    Amusing after all the hate from the chattering IT media about the HomePod and Siri and how Amazon and Alexa/Echo was SO much better. Now we find that Amazon is/was bleeding millions from selling Echo speakers below cost  and that people don't ask their smart speakers anything more than "turn on the lights" or "set a timer" or "play music" and the whole division at Amazon is being gutted.
    badmonklolliverwelshdog
  • Reply 6 of 15
    This is the road map for 2023? Apple is, at best, going sideways. 

    Time for a new direction. Which is going to require Tim Cook to move on. He’s been just superb over the past decade, but he has run out of ideas. 
    Japhey
  • Reply 7 of 15
    I hope the Mac Pro arrives much earlier than June!


  • Reply 8 of 15
    The AR/VR will be a solid new addition but a small affair at first like the Watch was - will be interesting to see how well it integrates with AppleTV - I imagine high cinema quality movie nights might become an option at home - maybe I won’t need to buy a new JVC projector for £11k… that would be disruptive.
  • Reply 9 of 15
    I disagree on the reasoning behind the name change from realityOS to xrOS. realityOS does convey both VR and AR because reality is in both names. Maybe they just wanted a shorter name?
    Or it could be that Apple never intended to call it RealityOS because someone else already holds the trademark for it. No kidding. Check it out here:

    https://tmsearch.uspto.gov/bin/gate.exe?f=searchss&state=4806:zvjnx5.1.1
  • Reply 10 of 15
    “Barring another pandemic…”

    The last pandemic was the Spanish Flu. This is not something that should happen again for a long, long time.

    And 2023 is looking like a great year for Apple. 
    edited December 2022
  • Reply 11 of 15
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,505member
    "A new HomePod could be transformed to include a screen for apps or widgets. It could merge with an Apple TV to be more of a soundbar."

    The albatross around the OG HomePod's proverbial neck was that its price-point limited its use case and subsequently put a drag on the implementation of HomeKit, which kind of requires people to place something HomePod-like within earshot of any given location around the house. HomePod Mini came to the rescue in that regard, and,  speculating to make sense of the absurd decision to discontinue the really quite amazing audio performance of the OG HomePod, perhaps that move was simply to clear the way for the much cheaper Mini to be the only thing people had to think about in that space, in order to ultimately make HomeKit a viable voice-operated thing around the house. 

    With a couple of years to let that settle in, perhaps they really will resurrect a premium audio HomePod. If that's the case, it's not going to be a really narrow niche device like a merged AppleTV 
    sound bar. That would be even worse than the original albatross mentioned above. No, the two developments in the last two years that make a potential new HomePod even more interesting are lossless audio and spatial audio. Two paired OG HomePods sound pretty great playing a Dolby Atmos track already. Now imagine if an upgraded HomePod also included the designed-for-Atmos feature of bouncing sound off the ceiling to be able to play back the vertical-axis audio that's also encoded in Atmos sound. HomePods designed with Dolby Atmos and lossless audio in mind could be pretty spectacular.

    Likewise, an updated AirPods Max will focus on the high-end audio experience as well. That's the reason for their existence in the first place, and the holy grail is wireless lossless audio. Bluetooth seems to be the bottleneck for the current devices. WiFi drains batteries faster, but there's got to be some solution at hand that balances energy consumption against the bandwidth requirement for transmitting lossless audio. 
    MisterKit
  • Reply 12 of 15
    JP234JP234 Posts: 789member
    I disagree on the reasoning behind the name change from realityOS to xrOS. realityOS does convey both VR and AR because reality is in both names. Maybe they just wanted a shorter name?
    Perhaps someone at Apple Marketing realized that augmented or extended or virtual reality are not reality. Not really. ;)

  • Reply 13 of 15
    I disagree on the reasoning behind the name change from realityOS to xrOS. realityOS does convey both VR and AR because reality is in both names. Maybe they just wanted a shorter name?
    If you check out the US trademark office website, you will see RealityOS is already trademarked. So maybe that's the reason Apple is changing it. Perhaps Apple hired a lawyer (who didn't mention to the RealityOS company that they represented Apple) to offer them $1,000,000 to sell the trademark but they wouldn't accept the offer.
  • Reply 14 of 15
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,505member
    What about the Apple classical music app? When Apple acquired Primephonic, they indicated 2022 would bring an Apple app that incorporated Primephonic’s features plus other enhancements. Reporting elsewhere indicates Apple still employs much of the Primephonic staff. There has also been reporting of oblique references in software code to Apple Music Classical, but 2022 hasn’t brought the thing itself. Perhaps AI could look into that and report in the new year. 
  • Reply 15 of 15
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,505member
    Continuing from the previous post, there’s a back-end issue that might be holding up the release of an Apple Classical app: artist royalties. The classical music app that Apple acquired, Primephonic, recognized that much of the genre is long-form music, and structured royalties payments accordingly. 

    An example of why: An album of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony clocks in at a bit over an hour long. So does Taylor Swift’s latest, “Midnights (3am Edition).” Here’s the catch: the Beethoven record consisted of four movements (related, connected songs) and is thus four tracks. Swift’s record has twenty songs in twenty tracks. 

    Most streaming services, including Apple Music, pay royalties on a per-track basis. That’s equitable for pop, rock, country, rap, etc, where most tracks are usually 2.5 or 3 minutes long. Not so much for classical. On Apple Music, performance royalties for playing Swift’s album would pay out five times what’s paid out for the Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony album, which employed a full orchestra, a large chorus, and a conductor -all professional musicians- to produce. 

    Primephonic recognized this issue and paid royalties on a per-minute basis, rather than per-track. It’s likely the acquisition deal, which brought Primephonic’s CEO and much of its staff into Apple, also included a requirement to address performance royalties in a similar manner. 

    That’s probably easier said than done, when it’s now a single company that may be in a position of paying royalties in different ways for different genres. Given that musical genres overlap, that’s probably going to cause issues, particularly if you assume Apple will want to have seamless connections between the classical and “regular” music apps, and won’t want to charge users separately or a premium for the classical app. Though some classical music fans would gladly pay a premium to have the search and browse functionality built around the more complex system required for classical music, many others would be upset to find out that a whole genre that’s currently available in the standard app is now only available in a new app that costs extra. 

    So tl;dr - it may be the royalties scheme that’s holding up release of an Apple Classical Music app, but it’d be nice to get some kind of confirmation and potential timeline. 
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