Rumors abound that alongside an Apple VR headset, Apple will also release a set of lightweight augmented reality glasses in the future. So what will they look like? How much will they cost? And when will they be released? Here's everything we've heard about Apple Glass so far.
Much of our information comes by way of a huge leak from Jon Prosser, who last year reported on the potential name, price, design, features, and more. The rumor is that Apple's AR glasses will simply be called 'Apple Glass'. It sounds simple, and "Apple enough", we love it.
What exactly are they?
There have been plenty of rumors in 2021 of an upcoming Apple VR headset. This is not that. Multiple reports indicate Apple is working on two separate AR and VR projects. From Bloomberg's Mark Gurman:
Apple Glass will reportedly be a lightweight pair of glasses for notifications and AR applications like directions.
We've heard multiple conflicting reports about a potential Apple Glass release. Jon Prosser says that Apple had planned to announce Apple Glass as early as the end of last year, or perhaps in the first quarter of 2021 at a March event. However, this would be several months or maybe a year before release, with public availability not set until the end of 2021 or 2022. This lines up with reports from supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo stating Apple Glass could be available from 2022. Mark Gurman, however, says Apple Glass is coming in 2023 "at the earliest."
Prosser states that Apple Glass is designed to look like a pair of regular glasses, which means you'll only be able to tell they're digital if you're wearing them. In an off-the-cuff remark on a podcast, Prosser also stated Apple may be planning a 'Steve Jobs Heritage Edition' of its glasses with frames that reflect those worn by Apple's famed founder. Reports suggest Apple Glass have a plastic frame, but that Apple could go for metal, or another material, in the final iteration.
Prosser also stated Apple Glass will cost "just" $499 plus the price of your prescription. You will also reportedly need to be an iPhone user, as Apple Glass will take information from the iPhone, much like Apple Watch.
Apple Glass will reportedly use a user interface called 'Starboard'. They will also feature a camera/LiDAR sensor, with a heavy focus on scanning proprietary Apple QR codes. They will also be charged wirelessly through a stand that's included.
Rumors of Apple Glasses have persisted for some time. Here's a history of each report we've heard previously.
Augmented Reality (AR) or Mixed Reality is different than Virtual Reality (VR). Rather than being immersed in a fully-rendered world, AR/MR layers data on top of the real world. Right now, Apple's efforts are focused on ARKit, its platform for hundreds of millions of iPhone and iPad users. But Apple doesn't see AR as a single product, like Microsoft's HoloLens or Snap's Spectacles. Apple sees AR as a core technology that will be part of many products coming in the future. Just like LCD and OLED are part of many products today. And that might just include Apple Glasses.
March 8, 2019: Apple Glasses could be coming as soon as 2020
Kuo Ming-Chi (Romanized Guo Minghao in the text below) is back with some supply-chain exfiltrated guesses as to when we might see augmented reality (AR) glasses from Apple.
From Economic Daily News:
It's going to be an ugly transition, but it's going to be a magnificent completion.
August 29, 2018: Akonia Holographics is Apple's latest augmented reality acquisition
Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, has been publicly bullish about augmented reality (AR) for a couple of years now. So, while the grand scope of Apple's AR plans still aren't being discussed, that the company is moving boldly into more and more portable, personal, and, yes, wearable technology comes as no surprise.
Remember all those sci-fi movies where the enhanced or cybernetic character would "see" data superimposed on the real world?
That, but real.
August 15, 2018: Apple Reality Glasses rumored for release in 2020
Apple supply-chain exfiltrator and TF International Securities analyst Kuo Ming-Chi is back with some new rumors surrounding a potential release window for Apple's augmented reality (AR) glasses:
- Sometime in 2020.
If Apple keeps up the pace of ARKit development, we should be on version 4.x by then, as well as heading towards Apple Watch Series 6. Will that be enough augmented reality prowess and wearable power to light up Apple's vision product? We'll have to wait and see.
November 21, 2017: Apple reportedly acquires Vrvana and its 'extended reality' headset
According to TechCrunch
Embarrassingly, even though they're in my hometown, I hadn't heard of Vrvana.
Be interesting to see how, if at all directly, any of Vrvana's tech makes it into shipping Apple products.
November 8, 2017: Apple rumored to be pushing for AR glasses by 2020
Apple glasses are the next hot thing, according to the rumor mills, and now comes word that Apple is speeding up its efforts to get glasses — and a new SiP and rOS to power them — off the ground and onto our faces as early as 2020.
Mark Gurman, writing for Bloomberg:
It's uncertain anything can or will success iPhone in terms of popularity or revenue in the short term. It was the perfect confluence of product and timing. But several next-generation products could augment and eventually replace iPhone as a product. That includes all the technology we're seeing today in Apple Watch and AirPods, and eventually in products like glasses.
Using an Apple Watch-like system-in-package allows for power and wearable portability. Basing rOS on iOS — like watchOS and tvOS were — allows for maximum efficiency and compatibility.
AirPods are already a compelling augmented reality wearable for audio. All the pieces are in place for Apple to do the same for AR video. The company just needs the time and technology to bring it to market at scale.
October 10, 2017: Cook: The technology does not yet exist for Apple Glasses
Apple has been working on a "glasses"-type augmented reality display for a while, according to rumors. An actual shipping product is still a ways off, though, according to Apple CEO, Tim Cook.
Speaking to The Independant:
Cook remains incredibly bullish on AR in general, of course. Apple launched ARKit for developers back in June and ARKit-powered apps launched to hundreds of millions of iPhone and iPad users in September. He believes the impact of AR will be dramatic and likened it to the advent of mobile apps on Apple's App Store.
It'll simply be a while still before the AR experience moves from our hands to our faces.
June 3, 2017: Rumor claims Apple AR glasses postponed, potentially canceled
Google had glass, which was more personal display than AR. Microsoft has HoloLens. Snapchat has spectacles. And Apple? While rumors have suggested Apple was working on glasses of its own, a new supply chain AMA suggests that product might have been pushed back — or even killed entirely.
Apple will likely introduce AR through iPhone or iPad, perhaps using Pokémon Go as a demo, long before we see glasses. But, AR is a long game for Apple, so we'll also have to wait and see where the technology takes them. And us.
April 20, 2017: Apple health and safety reports hints at Glasses
At some point having to hold a phone in your hand becomes less convenient than simply putting on a pair of glasses or contacts or otherwise intercepting and altering the photons going into your eyes.
Gizmodo got its hands on an Environmental Health and Safety report in April 2017 that seemingly implies employees have been testing some sort of AR or VR unit.
Apple has the resources to explore any product it wants to, so this is the kind of surprising that isn't. We'll just have to wait and see if it starts moving into production any time soon or simply remains an exploration for a good long while.
March 27, 2017: Apple began building its Glasses team over a year ago
This is how Apple rolls.
The Financial Times, on :
Spoiler: Apple's special project group works on multiple projects at once and priorities change depending on how far along a project is and how Apple feels it can make a difference in the market.
November 14, 2016: Apple weighing expansion into digital glasses
It'd be a bigger shock at this point if Apple wasn't exploring Glasses.
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Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.
Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9