Apple has taken its first official step into the world of virtual and augmented reality, but not with its own product. Instead, Apple has begun selling Mattel’s View-Master VR viewfinder in its online store.
The View-Master headset works with your phone, similar to Google Cardboard, along with an app and small disc cards that are reminiscent of the 3D View-Masters of your childhood. The viewfinder lets you explore different topics of interest through a combined AR and VR experience.
The headset doesn’t exactly provide the full immersive VR experience that Oculus Rift and HTC Vive do, but it’s a great (and cheap) entry-level experience that rivals Samsung Gear VR and Cardboard. Apple is selling the View-Master VR starter kit for $29.95 (about £20, AU$42).
A small step into VR
Though the View-Master may not be an Apple product, that the company is selling the headset marks Apple’s first foray into VR and AR technology, and comes just over a week after CEO Tim Cook said to investors that he thinks VR is “really cool,” has “interesting applications” and isn’t “niche.”
However, a report last week indicated that Apple has a massive, secret team working on a VR headset and that prototypes of various configurations have been made, though the report is no guarantee Apple is working on or will ever release one.
Reading into the kind of VR viewer Apple has chosen to start selling, the View-Master lets you slot in your iPhone. Could Apple be testing the waters for interest in this kind of viewer, or offering it as a cheap option as it readies a full-blown headset?
Cook’s comments and the addition of the View-Master to its store indicate Apple has kept a close eye on the developments surrounding VR and AR, and we’re inclined to believe that it has, more than likely, some secret up its sleeves.