The first device will reportedly be a standalone AR headset that works without needing to be plugged into a Mac or iPhone. Developer support could decide the success of Apple’s first standalone AR effort, and Kuo says the device will already support a “full range of applications”. Kuo had previously envisioned a roadmap with three phases: a helmet-like headset in 2022, eyewear by 2025 and contact lenses by 2030-2040.
In a recent note to investors, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (via MacRumors), often cited for his accurate inside information on everything related to Apple, says the Cupertino-based tech company will launch a head-mounted device next year, marking the first step in a 10-year process towards abandoning the smartphone in favor of AR.
As a quick reminder, AR differs from virtual reality in that AR superimposes digital objects on a real-world setting while virtual reality replaces that setting entirely with an imaginary realm.
Although Apple has not yet released a standalone AR product, the company has integrated various mixed reality features (such as a LiDAR camera) into its iPhones and iPads after launching ARKit, a virtual reality platform that uses sensor data to map objects in 3D space to create is easier for people to create AR-based apps.
Apple’s plans to create a standalone AR headset come as no surprise. The company is optimistic about AR, with Apple CEO Tim Cook telling YouTube creator Justine Ezarik (who goes by the name iJustine): “I’m so excited about AR. I think AR is one of those very few technologies. deep to which we will look back one day and go, how have we lived our lives without it? “
However, if Kuo’s report is accurate, Apple’s plans are bold. IPhone sales account for more than half of the company’s total revenue, reaching $ 38.9 billion for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2021. As such, Apple would only kill the iPhone once it transitioned to. AR is nearing completion. As it stands, AR has narrow use cases and remains confined to a few popular apps (Pokémon Go being the most notable) and as a useful tool in the workplace.
Apple also has to deal with AR’s shaky past. Its most famous appearance in the mainstream came through Apple’s biggest rival in Google Glass. Regarded by some as a sci-fi gadget for the future, Google Glass failed because people feared it would be registered at any time without permission. Google ditched plans to sell glasses to the public and decided to sell them to companies.
If patents are any indication, Apple is already experimenting with ways to protect user privacy. One way would be to make the camera module removable so that people nearby know if they are being filmed. This could circumvent the same restrictions that have banned Google Glass from public places, such as bars and theaters.
Privacy aside, modern AR glasses and headphones suffer from a long list of drawbacks. Those with advanced machine vision require powerful processing, which adds weight and cost. Microsoft’s Hololens, a mixed reality viewer, is one of them, retailing for a whopping $ 3,500. Lenovo’s $ 1,500 ThinkReality A3 also belongs in this category and is meant for business. Other options grouped under the smart glasses category, like Bose Frames and Amazon Echo Frames, don’t even use visual AR. Apple has launched some interesting ways to solve these technical hurdles. In a recent patent, the company describes using an “adjustable opacity layer” to control the transparency of the lens so that digital overlays are easier to see in bright conditions. This could potentially solve an issue we encountered with the now defunct North Focals. Then there is the question of how we will interact with the AR world. Apple’s answer? Haptic socks, or rather, what Apple calls a “wearable support structure with the feet.”
Even if Apple did release a viable product, it would still need to address public skepticism regarding the privacy and security concerns surrounding face-worn cameras – the same concerns we have with Facebook’s Ray-Ban stories. It would also need to educate people on how to use AR, convince them of its use cases, and encourage developers to bring their apps to its AR platform. All this to say that Apple’s plans are to take a monumental leap in a short amount of time. Although the tech giant has demonstrated its ability to popularize new product categories (tablets, music players and smartphones), 10 years doesn’t seem long enough to bring relatively new (and advanced) technology from its infancy to a proprietary product replacement. by over 40% of Americans.
If previous devices released in the process of building this iPhone-killing AR product fail, these ambitious plans could end up in the same bin as AirPower. But even if the early models are successful, I don’t see a timeline where the iPhone’s life expectancy shrinks to a decade. Whenever a new technology arrives, there is typically a long period of adoption. I suspect Apple’s AR glasses will be, at best, at that stage of 2031.