Apple’s VR headset gets closer to real reality

Hello iPod, hello Eyes pod. According to a report by Mark Gurman of Bloomberg, Apple has demonstrated a new Apple-made VR headset to the board. Such a product has been rumored for a while, and it has reportedly been in development at Apple since 2015. What it looks like and also not much about its functions we don’t know yet. It could take weeks, months, or even a few years for an Apple headset to show up, but most importantly, the device appears to exist.

The plunge into virtual reality hardware has been controversial within the company, with pushback and disagreements among Apple Brass, 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 glasses someday, they’re not quite there yet.

When the headset comes out, it will likely shake up the wearable VR ecosystem. Today, that space is largely dominated by Meta’s Oculus glasses. Meta has been making a splash with its metaverse marketing and has pitched us a dazzling cyberpunk future. Still, Meta is going all-in on its AR and VR aspirations, all the while bleeding $10 billion on its metaverse efforts.

But when Apple releases one thing, it’s usually a big deal. And this will be the first truly new Apple iThing since the Apple Watch. It certainly seems to spark a showdown between the mega consumer tech companies, with Apple and Meta going head-to-head to lure people into their VR visions. Maybe they can fight it out in beatsaber

Here’s what else happened this week:

Qualcomm gets new guts

On Friday, the US tech giant announced some new chipsets that should soon be making their way to Android phones near you. The Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 is a modest boost to the Snapdragon 8 that you will now find in many premium Android handsets. Qualcomm says 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-tier phones. This time, the chips are not made by Samsung, Qualcomm’s previous Snapdragon partner.

Lego your laptop

Framework, a company that builds laptops “that respect your right to repair,” has launched its second round of its ultra-repairable laptops. The computers are designed with tinkering in mind; they are easy to adjust, disassemble and install new parts. The first batch of laptops will ship in July, although it looks like they’re all sold out now. Framework says the next shipment will come in August. David Pierce at the Verge has a good story about how Framework’s hardware fits into the modular gadget movement.

Speaking of recoverability…

RTR account failed

A California repair bill passed Thursday in a state senate committee. If passed, the law would have become one of the first in the US to force appliance manufacturers to repair their products more easily by the people who buy them. The law would have required companies to provide repair manuals, parts and tools for use on their devices.

The advocacy group CALPIRG released a statement attributing the failure of the bill to pressure from tech manufacturers. “SB 983 could have saved California households as much as $4.3 billion a year by cutting spending on electronics and helping Californians reduce toxic electronic waste,” CALPIRG attorney Sander Kushen said in the statement. “Instead, the heavy lobbying efforts of industry groups helped destroy the bill.”

Even more OK, Google

Research firm Canalys published a report this week showing that Google is now the fifth largest smartphone manufacturer in the US, after 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 points out, it’s nearly four times the market share that Pixels had a year ago.

go drive

May is National Cycling Month, so what better time to talk about bikes and e-bikes? This week on the gadget lab podcast, WIRED review editor and cycling expert Adrienne So joins the show to tell you how to spin your wheels.

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