What's Up With Apple: AR/VR Headset, Ad 'Personalization' and More

It’s no secret that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) has been working on a mixed reality (augmented reality/virtual reality, or AR/VR) for a while now. A new report reveals that the company finished the chip design for the headset last year and that design work for other components also has been completed.

According to Ars Technica, the report, originally published by The Information ($), the headset is planned for release in “2022 or later.” The headset “has both a CPU and GPU, suggesting that it will be able to do some things without having to communicate with the phone,” but a nearby iPhone will be needed for some apps. Not included in the headset is the Neural Engine, a machine-learning chip used in other Apple devices. Ars Technica notes that the headset will be the “pricy, high-resolution, likely developer-focused mixed reality headset,” not the mass-market device.

The latest beta version of iOS 15 includes a prompt asking users’ permission for Apple to “personalize” ads people see on an App Store search and at the News and Stock apps. This is different from Apple’s Ad Transparency Tracking feature only in how it’s being presented and what Apple will do with people’s information once they have it. Apple doesn’t track, it personalizes, perhaps a distinction lacking a difference. Neither does it sell or otherwise share personal information with a third party as other app developers may with permission. The feature could be a preemptive response to further court fights over charges of anti-competitiveness.

A federal district court judge in Oakland has ruled that a lawsuit alleging that Apple’s Siri voice assistant violates people’s privacy rights may go ahead. According to Bloomberg, plaintiffs have “adequately alleged that their privacy was violated by ‘accidental activations’ when the user neither intends nor expects Siri to be ‘listening’ and recording voice conversations.”

A homeless camp on Apple-owned land in north San Jose is now being cleared. Apple is contributing “millions of dollars” from a $2.5 billion housing project fund the company set up in 2019 to assist the 60 or so people who are being relocated. According to a report at AppleInsider, Apple will pay for nine months of interim housing and a year’s worth of case management services. The company plans to build affordable housing on the land.

Apple and Alphabet/Google have been threatened by Russia’s state censor with fines if the companies don’t remove an app from their stores that the government says may interfere with the country’s upcoming elections. The app was developed by supporters of Alexei Navalny, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal and the Russian censor said that “the app enabled Mr. Navalny’s supporters to continue their campaigns after his Anti-Corruption Foundation was designated an extremist organization, banning it from operating in Russia.”

The Financial Times reported Thursday that the U.S. National Labor Relations Board has begun looking into allegations that Apple retaliated against a senior program manager after she accused the company of “permitting a hostile work environment.” The manager, Ashley Gjøvik, filed the charge last week alleging “retaliation including workplace harassment, job reassignment and reduction of supervisory responsibilities.” Gjøvik was put on indefinite paid administrative leave in August.