Apple reportedly plans 2022 release for first AR headset, followed by AR glasses in 2023

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Apple plans to release its first augmented reality headset in 2022, followed by a smaller device — a pair of AR glasses — in 2023, according to a new report from The Information.

Apple’s entry into the world of augmented reality has long been rumored, with many in the tech world seeing AR and VR as the next big platforms after mobile. But an exact entry date has been unclear, with some analysts suggesting a 2020 launch. Citing internal presentations made at Apple’s headquarters, The Information pushes this rumored timeline back to 2022, presumably due to difficulties in developing the technology.

As well as the new timeline, The Information’s report offers new detail about Apple’s AR headset, codenamed N301. The device supposedly resembles a slimmer version of the Oculus Quest, a virtual reality headset released in May. It has AR and VR capabilities, uses external cameras to map the user’s surroundings (including the outlines of people, furniture, and rooms), and has a high-resolution display to show information and blend virtual objects with the real world. Employees were told that the company would be reaching out to developers to build software for the headset from 2021.

After Apple has built this larger headset it plans to release a smaller pair of AR glasses. Unlike the headset, these will be designed to be worn for longer periods of time, with The Information reporting that “current prototypes look like high-priced sunglasses with thick frames that house the battery and chips,” according to a person who has seen prototypes. Apple has also reportedly explored lenses that darken when in operation, to signal to observers that the user is otherwise occupied.

On Monday afternoon, Bloomberg offered further corroboration of The Information’s report, noting that Apple “recently” decided to delay the release of its initial headset product from 2020 to the later launch timeframe. The combined AR/VR headset will “focus on gaming, watching video and virtual meetings,” according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman.

Both devices will make use of a “new 3D sensor system” which is a more advanced version of the Face ID camera found in iPhones and the iPad Pro today. This 3D time-of-flight sensor will reportedly debut in a new iPad Pro due early next year, a prediction that has also been backed by Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, before making its way to the 2020 iPhones.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has previously said that he regards augmented reality as “a big idea, like the smartphone,” telling The Independent in 2017: “The smartphone is for everyone, we don’t have to think the iPhone is about a certain demographic, or country or vertical market: it’s for everyone. I think AR is that big, it’s huge.”

Apple’s AR glasses seem designed to fulfill this promise, with The Information reporting that senior managers have said they believe the device could supplant the iPhone in about a decade.

As the smartphone market matures, Apple and many other tech companies are looking to virtual and augmented reality as the next big tech platforms. The iPhone maker has been building up resources in this area for years, buying tech from smaller companies and dedicating more employees to the project. Rivals like Facebook, Microsoft, and Google have also been investing heavily in this area through projects like HoloLens and Oculus.

However, virtual and augmented reality have proved tough ground for development, with bulky hardware and disappointing user experiences stymieing growth. Just last month Google effectively ended its Daydream experiment, which used phones to power VR headsets, citing a lack of developer adoption and “decreasing usage” from customers. In this context it seems wise for Apple to bide its time rather than rush to market.

Update 4:35PM ET November 11th: The article has been updated to include details from a report published by Bloomberg on Monday afternoon.

Comments

The pushback is interesting. By 2022 we’ll probably be on HoloLens 3 and Magic Leap Two, but Apple is still ahead of Facebook’s rumored 2023-2025 release dates.

There is a number of players in the AR and especially the VR area. It made sense that Apple embraced VR as well. Especially since AR isn’t good for a number of things, like full immersive experiences. AR shows you the real world all the time. So think about sitting in the front seat of a car driving around. VR is perfect for that, and I guess that is why they have Need for Speed VR. AR would suck for that experience. The same holds true for many experiences, like walking around, or driving around on Mars, or flying in space, visiting planets or stars. Flying a plane around. Diving under the ocean or being on board a submarine. All of which VR is made for. AR would completely suck for an immersive experience. How would a first person shooter game like call of duty work with AR, when you could still see your TV couch and chairs in the background everyone you move your head around. It would really suck playing most games. VR shines in that area. Plus there is millions of VR videos online now.

AR has its place, but when it comes to most games with any type of immersion, then VR is the go to, period. I believe Apple found that out as well. Apple also knows that the vast majority of it’s app revenue comes from games, and if Apple didn’t support VR, then they would be killing off a ton of revenue.

This should now finally shut up those iDiots who always say VR is dead. If you haven’t tried VR, then you are really missing out.

I’d argue that VR isn’t dead… but it is in a form of hibernation. To use Gartner’s Hype Cycle language – VR hit it’s Peak of Inflated Expectations in 2016, and now we’re going through the Trough of Disillusionment. But give it a couple of years and further research finds ways to work out the kinks… and we might just see that Plateau of Productivity we all want.

How is it in hibernation when it’s growing sales numbers every year? Hibernation implies stagnancy, and that’s not what’s happening. More people are aware of it and it’s becoming more affordable so naturally the sales are growing.

https://venturebeat.com/2018/10/09/in-2018-vr-stopped-having-potential-and-started-being-real/

You need to try some actual gaming in AR before painting with such a broad brush. Magic Leap has some great examples of shooters and particularly multiplayer.

How much is Magic Leap? Plus, loading times are atrocious and tracking is good but not great in all lighting conditions.

If Apple doesn’t get too greedy and creates a headset for $300 – $500 that ties to the processor in your phone, that offsets the cost of the entire system and may even bring in new users to the iPhone ecosystem.

If ML’s next HMD is still above $600 it will be dead in the water for the general consumer, relegated to a market of 10K-50K users which I don’t think will make a lot of investors happy who were sold on ML’s marketing hype and fixed lab demos "that it will change the world." It is one thing for Oculus under Facebook with deep pockets, to sell a product for under $500, but it is another when all of your money is on borrowed time.

One other thing, I have followed ML for years now, and it never fails that the always come out with a "look at me" moment around the holiday season. I for one am not buying into Rony’s perverted dream.

Sorry for the harshness towards ML @Malkmus . My own experience with some of their early demos were good and very interactive, but frankly it is limited, especially considering how much they pumped up how would not be able to distinguish its content from the real world. Sadly that is not the case and you have to push saturation and brightness of your content making it appear cartoonish due to their use of using a light valve projection systems. Until we have dynamic occlusion system along with tuned light valves, we will be stuck with Disney ride like experience.

I think AR is a good fit for tabletops like Dungeons and Dragons

uses external cameras to map the user’s surroundings (including the outlines of people, furniture, and rooms), and has a high-resolution display to show information and blend virtual objects with the real world

So, not actually holographic. Disappointing.

That’s exactly what Hololens does. But yes, technically, no one at all is making true "holograms".

The way I initially read it (and I think andromorr, too) makes it sound like the big headset thing had opaque displays with camera pass-through… but now that I’m re-reading it I think you’re right. It does sound like a Hololens-esque experience.

The bigger headset, yes. But the ‘glasses’ they’re working on ostensibly have transparent lenses. So, close to the experience you’re looking for.

Oh you mean like the Hololens? Yea they need to all go back look at what the term Holographic means.

Imagine the potential, put on your AR glasses and instead of your good old fat, ugly husband/wife you see a crazy hot model. Walk up to your car and see an Aventador SV instead of that beat up used BMW you actually own. Get home and walk into a royal palace with butlers everywhere instead of a motel room you live in. All in glorious 32K. Can’t wait.

Warning: objects in mirror appear more attractive than they actually are.

There’s definitely something to be said for accepting reality for what it is. If my wife could only stand me because I’m some hot hunk o’ man… that’d be a pretty depressing state of affairs.

I’d also imagine it would be a pretty big safety hazard to disguise your vehicle or living quarters so thoroughly, even only to yourself.

Far more likely, and dystopian, is that there will be ads freakin’ everywhere. Look out your window, ads. Open the toilet lid, ads. Walk down the street, ads.

I’m more interested and terrified by the prospects of sitting and having conversations with deceased loved ones who have been recreated by AI combing through the internet to find every shred of data about them so it can to recreate a virtual life like representation of them.

It’s creepy as hell, and it’s going to happen, I have no doubt. The very company that is collecting massive amounts of data on everyone, is funding AI, bought VR tech, and is pushing it all forward will be on the vanguard of making it happen.

Even though I love new technologies, that’s exactly how I see AR tech. While most people are excited about the potential to improve lives with AR fitness, collaborative work, holographic communication, etc. At the end, companies will use this new medium to sell you things and make you addicted to their stupid mixed reality apps 24 hrs (Search about "surveillance capitalism")

WHAT ABOUT 3D TOUCH THO.

It’s hard to see Apple in this space. Then again, it was hard to imagine them as a phone company back in 2007

Google failed with Daydream because it tried to control the housing and content. The VR housing using UFC to identify when it was placed in it, was not made available to hardware developers or third party manufacturers like the Cardboard and their QR codes/QR generator. This left you with only the original Daydream headset and the 2017 model that like the Samsung GearVR were compromised due to having to work with different model/size Pixels & limited phones from other manufacturers (due to Google imposed HW requirements), leaving a less than satisfying experience. When the standalone Lenovo Mirage Solo came to market allowing for 6DOF, it suffered from poor fit, limited Daydream 3DOF controller and price. However…

… the final nail in the coffin is the content ecosystem that was curated by Google and a UI that limited the number of apps the user could see at first glance making it very difficult to break out from those "sanctioned" Google Daydream apps and their price. Most phone users were not about to start spending $5 – $10 an app for a 5 – 10 minute experience.

And finally Oculus Go happened.

Is it really for everyone ? For one, what about prescription glasses? It is obe of those trend tgat tge tech world seems focused on through its biased glass while everyone else is just content with smartphones or begin to feel a technology fatigue. Smartphone, smartwatches, tablets, speakers, etc we are already always connected. How many technology is too much technology ?

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