A new report pushes the rumored launch date of Apple’s AR device by two years; hints at a second, sleeker device.
This past October, TF International Securities analyst and veteran Apple researcher Ming-Chi Kuo released a report stating that Apple’s long-rumored AR headset will launch during the second quarter of 2020 and that the company had already begun partnering third-party eyeglass brands, suggesting a potential modular design.
According to insider-knowledge recently obtained by The Information, however, a discussion lead by Apple VP Mike Rockwell during an internal group presentation conducted last month at Apple Park in Cupertino, CA suggests that the mysterious device will launch closer to 2022. Not only that, but the headset — supposedly a VR/AR hybrid — will be followed by the release of dedicated AR glasses the following year, thereby establishing an official augmented reality ecosystem of Apple products.
As reported by The Information, the headset — codenamed “N301” — will look similar to that of the Oculus Quest standalone VR headset, albeit with slightly lighter design. This report also claims the 2022 headset will be a combination VR/AR device designed specifically for gaming, virtual meetings, and video watching. Another rumored feature is a “Dark Lenses” mode that signifies to others that the AR technology is active and you’re no longer paying attention.
This hybrid headset will then be followed by the release of a sleeker, more streamlined pair of glasses designed specifically for AR content. According to the report, Apple will begin reaching out to AR developers around 2021. Mark Gurman of Bloomberg, a veteran reporter of technology news, confirms the rumored 2021-2022 release window.
“In 2021 or 2022, Apple aims to release a combined VR and AR headset with a focus on gaming, watching video, and virtual meetings. The company intends to roll out a lightweight pair of AR glasses as early as 2023, one of the people familiar with the plans said. Apple had originally intended to have the technology for its initial headset ready in 2019 for a release in 2020, but recently decided to push that back, the person added.”
Though this nearly two-year delay may come as a disappointment to many, the fact that Apple is taking its time with the development of its proprietary AR technology is a clear sign of the companies long-term commitment to immersive hardware. During the internal meeting, which was reported to have included roughly 1,000 employees, one Apple manager suggested that AR glasses could replace iPhones within the decade.
This past September, a handful of eagle-eyed developers discovered specific bits of code hidden within the update for iOS 13 that pointed towards the existence of an AR headset as well as various other AR functionalities. Since then, rumors regarding a dedicated AR headset have continued to swirl.
With Facebook having already confirmed the ongoing development of its own AR glasses this past September during Oculus Connect 6, it appears as though AR is shaping up to be the next big technology for these major corporations. No doubt the eventual roll-out of 5G networking will play a significant role in the transition from smartphones to headsets.
Feature Image Credit: Apple