The year so far in AR/VR: the 5 biggest announcements and what’s coming next

The Apple Vision Pro on a violet background
(Image credit: Future)

We're six months into 2024, and in the first half of the year we've been treated to a whirlwind of augmented and virtual reality tech goodness.

The star of the show was the Apple Vision Pro launch, but we’ve also seen Meta open up its Horizon OS to its former VR rivals, and Xreal launched new glasses and a spatial computing accessory that finally feel like the AR future we’ve been promised.

The year's far from over though, with hardware announcements expected from Meta and (if we're lucky) Samsung in the coming months – so let's dive into the year so far in AR/VR, and take a look at what we might see in the back half of 2024.

AR/VR in 2024: what have been the biggest announcements so far this year?

Lance Ulanoff staring at Apple Vision Pro in its case

The Apple Vision Pro came, but did it conquer? (Image credit: Future/Lance Ulanoff)

We can’t talk about AR and VR tech in 2024 without talking about the Apple Vision Pro – the most anticipated XR product launch maybe ever. Unfortunately for Apple, while its headset made a major splash when it launched in February – with our Apple Vision Pro review awarding it four-and-a-half-stars – the hype has since petered out, and the upcoming global launch on July 12 for Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and the UK doesn’t seem to have reignited major interest in the $3,499 / £3,499 / AU$5,999 device.

But the VR space was given a major shake up this year, even if not by Apple. That’s because Meta announced that its Horizon OS would be coming to third-party headsets – starting with devices from ASUS, Lenovo and Xbox. This is super exciting as the Horizon OS is the best standalone VR platform thanks to its intuitive UI, massive software library, and regular updates. 

Horizon OS going third-party should see the launch of a wider range of headset designs – focusing in distinct niches like gaming, productivity, exercise, and more – that aren’t held back by lackluster operating systems; which was the case for headsets like the HTC Vive XR Elite)

Though it wasn’t all good news from Meta as it cut support for the original Oculus Quest headset. April 30 was the last day developers could send app updates to the half-a-decade-old VR device, and August will mark the final month Meta will send out “critical bug fixes and security patches” to the device – so if you want to keep using your Quest library it might finally be time to upgrade to the Meta Quest 3 (which we’d recommend anyway so that you can enjoy upcoming exclusive like Batman: Arkham Shadow).

Lastly, in the AR space specifically, Xreal announced the Xreal Air 2 Ultra and a handy Xreal Beam Pro accessory – that’s basically a spatial computing ready smartphone. We haven’t yet had a chance to try out the Ultra, but its been billed as a more affordable alternative to the Vision Pro, complete with in-built cameras so you can interact with virtual elements with your hands (something you couldn’t do with previous models such as the regular Xreal Air 2).

AR/VR in 2024: what launches are we expecting during the rest of the year?

Girl wearing Meta Quest 3 headset interacting with a jungle playset

Will we see a new Meta Quest 3 this year? Probably (Image credit: Meta)

One headset that we’ll almost certainly see later this year is the Meta Quest 3S. This so-called affordable Quest 3 is believed to pack the Quest 3’s brain (a Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 chipset) in a bulky Quest 2-like body – as well as adopting a few other downgrades.

Meta hasn’t said much officially, but it has leaked the device twice. One leak involved its CTO accidentally showcasing it in the background of a Threads video, while the other saw the Quest 3S appearing accidentally on some Meta Quest Store pages as a compatible headset for some software. So this all but guarantees it’ll show up at Meta Connect 2024, which we know is scheduled for September 25 - 26.

Meta also dropped a surprise teased its first pair of AR glasses at the end of a blog post earlier this year, but we don’t expect they’ll launch in 2024 – with a leaked internal roadmap shared by  The Verge back in 2023 suggesting they’ll land in 2027, though a pair of precursor smart glasses are expected in 2025 to update its AI-powered Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses product line.

Getting back to 2024 releases, we might also see the highly-anticipated Samsung XR/VR headset. Samsung and Google announced its existence over a year ago, but haven’t had much to say on it since – with rumors suggesting they delayed its launch following reactions to the Apple Vision Pro. Hopefully that means it wasn’t pushed out of 2024 and into 2025 or beyond, but we’ll have to wait and see.

You might also like...

Hamish Hector
Senior Staff Writer, News

Hamish is a Senior Staff Writer for TechRadar and you’ll see his name appearing on articles across nearly every topic on the site from smart home deals to speaker reviews to graphics card news and everything in between. He uses his broad range of knowledge to help explain the latest gadgets and if they’re a must-buy or a fad fueled by hype. Though his specialty is writing about everything going on in the world of virtual reality and augmented reality.