Vision Pro 2 leak shows Apple isn’t done with mixed reality

 Apple Vision Pro.
Apple Vision Pro.

Despite being revealed all the way back in June, the Apple Vision Pro still isn’t available to buy, making it impossible to tell whether the $3,500 headset is going to be the next big thing or the kind of expensive flop that Apple hasn’t had in a long time. We’ll find out at some time next year, though Apple hasn’t publicly zeroed in on a release date yet, with “early 2024” as exact a window as we’re getting for now.

But even without sales data, it seems Apple is working on a sequel, and early details have emerged courtesy of MacRumors’ sources. Codenamed Project Alaska, it “bears [a] striking resemblance” to the first-gen model, though there are a few subtle differences, chiefly with the speakers.

The schematics, the site explains, don’t contain the rounded areas that house the speakers in the current version, and they’re instead “flat and uniform throughout their entire length.” So where are they? Well, documentation related to Project Alaska includes references to an audio accessory, so it’s possible there may be an external speaker this time around.

A second difference is with the rear straps, with something “simpler in design and appearance” and “somewhat reminiscent of the flat straps commonly found on laptop bags or backpacks.”

Once again, an external battery pack is planned, and it looks like the sensors and cameras will remain the same, with the headset packing a compass, an ambient light sensor, a magnetometer and gyroscope, along with support for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5, and ultra-low latency audio.

It’s possible that this is not Apple Vision Pro 2, but the cheaper model that’s rumored. The lack of speaker and simplified straps would point in that direction — though a previous report did say that Apple was looking to make a second-generation model cheaper, so it’s not conclusive either way. Plus the sensors don’t suggest any serious corner-cutting in functionality which is predicted for an ‘SE’ model, though of course no chipset is mentioned.

But with Project Alaska’s production validation testing (PVT) scheduled for 2025, we’re looking at a 2025 or 2026 release date, which tallies up with Bloomberg’s predicted roadmap for future Apple products. The report added that a second-generation model would have some predicted features omitted from the first generation, including the ability to view multiple Mac desktop screens at a time, virtual fitness content and multiple users able to use digital personas.

Whether this is a cheaper model or a genuine successor, it seems clear Apple isn’t done with mixed reality yet. Unless Vision Pro bombs so badly that Apple has to cut its losses, it looks like next year’s headset is just a first step in a bold new direction for the company, with plans for AR to one day replace the iPhone.