Apple and AR? We might be closer than you think…
When it comes to smart glasses and augmented reality, some companies like Microsoft have been very public about their intentions to go “all in” on making this new technology a core offering in the years to come.
However, Apple, known for it’s secrecy, has been extra quiet on the virtual and augmented reality front. Apple is known for their innovative technology and forward thinking strategy. They are also known for not tipping their hat as to what the next company move is. Because of this, rumors surrounding each of Apple’s potential product releases tend to be both many and varied.
Rumor Has It…
Recently, rumors surrounding a potential move into augmented reality have been picking up steam. And for once, it seems like there is legitimate reason to believe that this might be Apple’s next play. And while CEO Tim Cook and other company reps have continued to deny that any AR systems are in the works, it does appear that their interest in AR is steadily growing. In fact, recently Tim Cook said that AR will “Change the way we use technology forever”.
Rumors aside, we’re beginning to see actual evidence stack up, all pointing to a deliberate intention to move into AR headset or glasses to couple with their flagship iPhone products.
So what’s spurred this most recent wave of water cooler gossip?
Apple at CES
None other than the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. This event, while spectacular, isn’t something that Apple typically attends. This year they did. Normally Apple prefers to host it’s own product launches, where it can more effectively manage its message and brand throughout the year.
Apple attending CES, a largely out of character move, was enough to get fan boys in a tizzy, but what’s created even more buzz is that representatives from the company were observed having discussions with parts suppliers of augmented reality headsets and glasses.
Before you start drooling over the idea of an iGlasses or iAugment headset, let’s look at the facts, or rather what we know at this point.
Similar to other “rumors” the details surrounding what Apple may (or may not have) discussed with these AR suppliers and partner companies is slim to none. Despite the lack of evidence, we do know for sure that Apple reps were in talks with AR suppliers, and that by itself lends credence to the rumors that Apple developed smart glasses or a head mounted display might not be far off.
Smart Glasses on the Verizon?
Given the rising popularity of AR and VR the likelihood that this tech is on Apple’s radar is likely high. To further wet the palate, Apple’s most recent A11 Bionic chips (iPhone 8 and iPhone X) already support AR, brining even more processing power to Apple’s ARKit. This provides developers with a solid platform upon which to build iOS compatible AR apps in the future.
This gives Apple a solid base upon which to launch a smart glasses platform, similar to how iOS was re-worked into watchOS.
Despite this move towards AR, many experts agree that we likely won’t get any “official” word from Apple until at least June of 2018 (the estimated date of Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference). This would likely be a smart play on Apple’s part, giving them a chance to showcase developer work with ARKit coupled with smart glasses technology. Such a move would be sure to attract even more talent to the developer pool, driving progress and visibility and awareness amongst both tech and consumer markets.
While an “official” announcement could still be a ways off, we’re starting to see strong indicators of the company’s intention to move in this direction. According to a recent Bloomberg report, sources close to the company allege that Apple will have AR technology ready by 2019, with an expected hardware shipment date sometime in 2020. This report further alleges that the new platform is currently dubbed “rOS” (Reality Operating System) and is said to un on the iOS core. As mentioned, none of this has been officially “confirmed” by Apple, and knowing how they like to operate, we likely won’t get any additional confirmation for quite some time.
While much of the recent chatter has been around Apple, it’s important to note that they are not the only player in town. Facebook, Snapchat and Google were also all seen in discussions with AR companies. As you may remember, Facebook acquired Oculus in 2014, Google has been developing their Daydream View, and Snapchat tried and failed to enter the market with their “Spectacles” not more than two years ago.