Goodbye iPod, hello eye pod. According to a report by Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple has shown off a new Apple-made VR headset to its board of directors. Such a product has been rumored for some time and has reportedly been in development at Apple since 2015. We don’t yet know what it looks like or much about its features. It could be weeks, months, or even a few years before an Apple headset shows up, but the takeaway is that the device appears to actually exist.
Entry into virtual reality hardware has been contentious within the company, with backlash and disagreements between Apple executives, including former Apple design chief Jony Ive. The upcoming headset uses both virtual reality and augmented reality technology, and while Apple is expected to announce AR-only glasses one day as well, they’re not quite there yet.
When the headset comes out, it will likely shake up the wearable VR ecosystem. Today, this area is largely dominated by Meta’s Oculus glasses. Meta has made a fuss with their Metaverse marketing, setting us up for a glitzy cyberpunk future. Still, Meta has gone all-in on its AR and VR ambitions, all the while bleeding over $10 billion on its Metaverse efforts.
But when Apple releases a thing, it’s usually a big deal. And this will be the first truly new Apple iThing since the Apple Watch. There certainly seems to be a showdown between the mega consumer tech companies, with Apple and Meta going head-to-head to seduce people into their VR visions. Maybe they can fight back saber.
Here’s what else happened this week:
Qualcomm gets some new guts
On Friday, the American tech giant announced some new chipsets that should soon make their way into Android phones near you. The Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 is a modest improvement on the Snapdragon 8 that you’ll now find in many premium Android phones. According to Qualcomm, the “Plus” version is 10 percent faster than the old chip and 30 percent more energy efficient. Qualcomm’s other new chip is the Snapdragon 7 Gen 1, a replacement for the Snapdragon 700 chips found in mid-range phones. This time around, the chips won’t be made by Samsung, Qualcomm’s former Snapdragon partner.
Lego your laptop
Framework, a company that makes laptops “that respect your right to repair,” has launched its second round of its ultra-repairable laptops. The computers are designed for tinkering; They are easy to customize, disassemble and insert new parts. The first batch of laptops will ship in July, although it seems these are all sold out now. Framework says its next shipment will run out in August this year. David Pierce at the Verge has a good story on how Framework’s hardware fits into the modular gadget movement.
Speaking of repairability…
RTR bill fails
A California Right to Repair bill was defeated in a state Senate committee on Thursday. If passed, the law would have become one of the first in the US to force device manufacturers to make their products more easily repairable for the people who buy them. The law would have required companies to provide repair manuals, parts and tools for use on their devices.
Advocacy group CALPIRG issued a statement attributing the failure of the bill to pressure from technology manufacturers. “SB 983 could have saved California households up to $4.3 billion a year in reduced electronics spending and helped Californians reduce toxic e-waste,” CALPIRG advocate Sander Kushen said in the statement. “Instead, heavy lobbying by industry groups helped defeat the bill.”
Even more OK, Google
Research firm Canalys released a report this week showing that Google is now the fifth largest smartphone maker in the US, behind Apple, Samsung, Lenovo and TCL. Google has now captured 3 percent of the country’s smartphone market. That doesn’t sound huge, but as Android Police notes, it’s nearly four times the market share that Pixel had a year ago.
May is National Bike Month, so what better time to start talking about cycling and e-bikes? This week on gadget lab Podcast, Wired Reviews editor and bike expert Adrienne So joins the show to tell you how to get your wheels spinning.