In late 2018, Apple Inc. was a few years into its plan to build a powerful headset with both virtual- and augmented-reality capabilities when things shifted dramatically. Jony Ive, then the company’s design chief, objected to some fundamental aspects of the product and urged Apple to change course.
The headset was to be the first major launch from the company since the Apple Watch and the debut device from the Technology Development Group, a secretive unit devoted to VR and AR. The TDG is led by an equally under-the-radar executive, Mike Rockwell. After stints at Dolby Laboratories Inc. and media-editing-software company Avid Technology Inc., Rockwell, 53, was hired in 2015 by Dan Riccio, Apple’s top hardware executive. At first, his role was loosely defined, according to interviews with current and former employees who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters. Representatives for Apple and I've declined to comment, and the company didn’t make Rockwell available for an interview.
He started building his team in late 2015, and what grew into a 1,000-strong group of engineers went to work developing two products aimed at upending the VR and AR segments. A device codenamed N301 would take the best of both VR and AR—the first an all-encompassing digital experience for gaming and consuming content, and the second a tool for overlaying information such as text messages and maps in front of a viewer. The other device, N421, a lightweight pair of glasses using AR only, is more complex.
N301 was initially designed to be an ultrapowerful system, with graphics and processing speeds previously unheard of for a wearable product. The processing capabilities were so advanced—and produced so much heat—that the technology couldn’t be crammed into a sleek headset. Instead, Rockwell’s team planned to sell a stationary hub, which in prototype form resembled a small Mac, that would connect to the headset with a wireless signal. In Rockwell’s early version, the headset would also be able to operate in a less powerful independent mode.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
The RV business is booming and shows no sign of slowing down. To find out why, our correspondent dragged his reluctant family to the RV capital of the world— the cutest city in north central Indiana!—and hit the road
The Fortnite Fallout
Apple and Epic meet in court, making the collapse of a once-close relationship complete
Yes, Streaming Ads Are on Repeat
Commercials on services like Hulu, Pluto, and Discovery+ have become an $11 billion business
Laggard Doesn't (Always) Mean Loser
At least a few companies still in the vaccine race will likely succeed as Covid lingers
Why Don't More Women Run Money?
The gender imbalance in portfolio management persists even as some women take top fund jobs
COME AT ME
When a gossip rag went after Jeff Bezos, he retaliated with the brutal, brilliant efficiency he used to build his business empire. From the new book Amazon Unbound , an untold story of money, sex, and power
More Merchants Are Courting Cash
Surcharges for credit card purchases become common as businesses try to avoid swipe fees
Covid Means There's Even Less Joy in Mudville
Capacity constraints and distancing rules bring big headaches for season ticket holders
Justin Zhu was fired for taking LSD before an important meeting. The whole situation was even weirder
Facebook Won't Apologize for Instagram Youth
It’s making a kid-focused version of its photo-sharing app, regardless of what critics say
women's health AT EVERY AGE
A woman’s health needs change dramatically over the years. Use this guide to find hormone-balancing tips and remedies based on your age.
Instant Pot Lamb Stew
Celebrate spring with this quick-and-easy seasonal favorite.
AIRTAGS: NEXT-GENERATION TRACKING TECHNOLOGY HAS ARRIVED
Two years after they were first rumored, Apple finally lifted the lid on its tracking device AirTag at its Spring Loaded event in April, designed to help consumers keep track of items that matter most.
Android loses a huge innovator as LG quits making phones
LG phones pushed the bleeding edge of innovation, but it wasn’t enough.
TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR PASSWORDS USING iCLOUD KEYCHAIN ON YOUR iPHONE, iPAD, & MAC
IT’S MORE POWERFUL THAN YOU THINK.
APPLE MUSIC LAUNCHES MORE THAN 100 CITY-FOCUSED MUSIC CHARTS
Apple Music is coming to a city near you — the streaming service has launched daily music charts focused on particular cities around the world, including New York City, Tokyo and Lagos.
APPLE'S iPHONE PRIVACY CLAMPDOWN ARRIVES AFTER 7-MONTH DELAY
Apple is following through on its pledge to crack down on Facebook and other snoopy apps that secretly shadow people on their iPhones in order to target more advertising at users.
APPLE PROFIT SOARS IN LATEST QUARTER ON HIGHER iPHONE SALES
Demand for the iPhone and other Apple products drove profits to more than double in the January-March period as the tech giant continued to capitalize on smartphone addiction.
iPAD PRO 2021: SUPERCHARGED WITH XDR DISPLAY, M1 CHIP, & THUNDERBOLT
The iPad Pro has become something of a workhorse in recent years, offering professionals an alternative to a laptop with cutting-edge capabilities and software.
APPLE ANNOUNCES 1ST EAST COAST CAMPUS IN NORTH CAROLINA
Apple is expanding spending in the U.S. and announced plans to build its first East Coast campus, in North Carolina.