Good things take time, and Apple's quest to produce AR (augmented reality) glasses is certainly testament to the fact. Reported to have been in the works since 2013, rumours concerning the product have been swirling for years with fans quick to speculate when they might arrive, what they might do, and how they would work.
It was always believed that the glasses would feature AR capabilities that could one day render the smartphone redundant, but industry experts began to wonder if wireless charging and new software could also be incorporated into the product's release.
Recent reports suggest that the glasses we've all been fascinated with could be arriving sooner than first imagined. As the company aggressively tries to expand its hardware product offerings, while also doubling down on its services businesses, the tech titan looks set to drop the glasses of the future. Of course, Covid-19 has thrown a spanner in the works when it comes to Apple's product lineup, but seemingly it's nothing they can't handle.
Most recently, a new leak from Front Page Tech host Jon Prosser has revealed a number of specifics about the long-awaited AR glasses from Apple. According to Prosser, the glasses will be called “Apple Glass” and have a starting price of $499 USD.
Prosser then suggests that wearers will be able to purchase prescription lenses at an extra cost. The glasses will also be able to pair with the iPhone, while the glasses also feature a display in each lens that wearers can interact with through a series of gestures.
As with all leaks and rumours that spill from tech insiders and industry experts, it’s hard to know what’s true and what’s false but if history has taught us anything, it’s that regardless of how hard Apple tries to keep a product under wraps, there’s always someone willing to spill the beans. The leak suggests Apple are potentially looking to release the product in 2021 or early 2022. It’s believed Apple will share the announcement at its iPhone event later this year, but that could now be postponed until March 2021.
Here's everything we know so far about the AR glasses, thanks to respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo with TF International Securities.
Expected Launch Date
Apple is yet to confirm the news about its AR glasses, but reports that they're in development have been consistently circulating since 2013. Kuo's most recent report stated that the company will begin mass producing the spectacles before the end of 2019, and that they could be ready for launch by mid-2020. The analyst has also stated previously that the glasses would launch in 2020, but with Prosser's latest report, it certainly seems like it will be a 2021/2022 release.
While Prosser said the price will start at $761, other competitor products suggest the price could be higher. Microsoft's HoloLens 2 and the Magic Leap One are both priced over $2,000. At $150, Snap's Spectacles may offer another point of comparison, but Apple's devices will likely ship with far more functionality. While launched in 2013, the Google Glass - at the time priced at $1,500 - may give us a greater comparison point.
Features Of The AR Glasses
Apple's AR glasses will superimpose 3D images onto the real world. Suggested uses include the workplace, by making it easier for engineers to design car renders or allowing artists to collaboratively work on projects in a digital space. But unlike Microsoft, Apple seems to be taking a more mainstream consumer approach to its first AR hardware offering.
Others have suggested they could be used as a tour guide, with the software offering highlights and points of interest or directions for users who are touring a city. A recently renewed patent also details how the glasses could leverage Bluetooth to become a tracker for locating other lost devices.
An April 2018 patent states the headset would use near-infrared cameras on either side of the wearer's face, emitting infrared light to track movement. This could enable videos or images to stay within someone's field of view when they're wearing the glasses and walking around.
According to the patent: "The portions of any given frame which are filtered using the respective filter layers may be selected dynamically based on the direction of the individual's gaze in various embodiments."
As Kuo suggests, the glasses might also lay the groundwork for the Apple car system, expected to hit roads in 2023 and 2025. With AR at its core, it's rumoured that the vehicle software will use artificial intelligence in tandem with AR to highlight traffic signals and other roadsigns with holograms while users are driving.
Dependent On iPhone
As Kuo suggests, the AR glasses will rely substantially on a user's iPhone to handle the computational heavy lifting required to deliver a compelling augmented reality experience.
"The analyst says that the AR glasses will essentially act as a display only with the actual computing rendering, internet connectivity and location services coming from the iPhone in the user's pocket," read 9to5Mac's summary of Kuo's report.
Eventually though, it's believed that Apple will produce a stand-alone user experience but first the company will need to find a way to pack a substantial amount of processing power into a lightweight, battery-powered device and deliver acceptable battery life while doing so.