Apple is considering creating a pair of digital glasses that offer an augmented reality experience, according to a new report.
The iPhone maker’s project is still in the “exploration phase” according to Bloomberg, which reports that the mystery wearable device would connect wirelessly to iPhones, as well as showing images and other information in your field of vision. The article cites people familiar with the matter, but doesn’t name a specific source, so we can’t actually verify this information, unfortunately.
Apple has reportedly held talks with potential suppliers, and has even ordered a small number near-eye displays. But order numbers are still low apparently, which would suggest that Apple isn’t ready to kick off production just yet.
If Apple does decide to go ahead with a pair of smart glasses, then one Bloomberg source said “it would be introduced in 2018 at the earliest”. But as we know, Apple has no problem shutting down projects even after heavy investment, as is believed to have been the case with the long-rumoured Apple Car.
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The move to smart glasses may seem like an odd one for Apple, but it’s believed that CEO Tim Cook is under a lot of pressure to deliver new products after iPhone sales slowed last quarter. As the iPhone makes up the lion’s share of Apple’s total revenue, shareholders are increasingly concerned that Apple hasn’t done enough to diversify how it makes its money.
But this isn’t the first we’ve heard of an AR pivot from Apple. Speaking to analysts earlier this year, Cook said: “AR can be really great, and we have been and continue to invest a lot in this. We are high on AR for the long run. We think there are great things for customers and a great commercial opportunity.”
But Cook seems less keen to shut everyone out in a virtual reality world. In October, Cook is quoted as saying: “I can’t imagine everyone in here getting in an enclosed VR experience while you’re sitting in here with me, but I could imagine everyone in here in an AR experience right now.”
Augmented reality is a tricky market to enter, largely because it’s so new. Google made an early stab at AR two years ago, with the introduction of its Google Glass smart glasses. But the ill-fated goggles were quickly shuttered, and Google quietly moved on to the greener pastures of virtual reality, with its recently launched Daydream View VR headset. Apple rival Microsoft has also entered the AR game with its Microsoft Hololens headset. A very different imagining than Google Glass, Hololens has been generally well-received by press on account of its more substantial software backing and high-grade AR.
Unfortunately, we’re not entirely convinced that Apple will actually make the leap into AR. And even if it does, such a move could be years away.
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What would you like to see from an Apple AR headset? Let us know in the comments.