Mark Gurman Recaps His Reporting on Apple’s Upcoming XR Headset and He’s Sticking With the Front-Facing Display for Googly Eyes

Mark Gurman, reporting for Bloomberg:*

Other key figures in Apple’s top ranks, such as Craig Federighi, senior vice president for software engineering, have also kept their distance and seemed wary of the headset, according to people familiar with the project. Johny Srouji, Apple’s senior vice president for hardware technologies, has privately been a skeptic, likening it to a science project. Internally he’s warned that building the high-performing chips needed for the device could distract from new iPhone chips, which would probably drive more revenue.

That’s some legitimately juicy gossip. But I’m not sure how Federighi, the head of all software at Apple, could keep any distance at all from Apple’s first major new software platform since the iPhone.

Srouji’s group did end up developing some of Apple’s most advanced chips to date for the headset, while iPhone speed gains have indeed slowed in recent years.

Well of course Srouji’s group developed advanced chips for the headset. Where else would the chips come from? “Well Tim, Johny is skeptical about this project, so I guess we’ll commission all the custom silicon designs from Qualcomm.

And comparing benchmark results for iPhones vs. Android phones, I’d love to know what speed gains have slowed. It seems like nonsense to me. If anything, Apple’s A-series chips are further ahead of the competition than ever in both raw performance and performance-per-watt.

In an attempt to keep headset wearers engaged with the real world, the device will have an outward-facing display showing their eye movements and facial expressions. Apple regards this feature as a key differentiator from enclosed VR headsets. One person familiar with the device says the exterior screens allow people to interact with a headset wearer without feeling as if they’re talking to a robot.

I’ll buy this front-facing display rumor if there’s a Cylon mode.

Otherwise I’ll stick with my previous understanding that this is an internal joke that has been taken as real; that it would look goofy, not humane; and that even if it didn’t look goofy, it would make no sense to add the financial cost of an outward-facing display to an already-expensive device, and even less sense to incur the battery-life drain of powering that external display on an already-battery-life-constrained device.

Thursday, 18 May 2023