Apple to Release an AR Headset Next Year

Posted on March 8, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Apple, iOS, Mobile with 14 Comments

A new report from an analyst close to Apple claims that the consumer electronics giant will release an augmented reality (AR) headset in 2020. The headset will essentially be a remote display that relies on the iPhone for processing.

News of Apple’s long-rumored AR headset/glasses comes from Guo Minghao, an analyst at Tianfeng International Securities, who told investors in a note that the device would come to market as soon as the end of 2019 but more likely in the first half of 2020. The device will require an iPhone, a sharp change from the rumors of two years ago, when Apple was reportedly working on its own “reality operating system,” or rOS, and a custom processor/chipset for the device.

If Guo is correct, those plans have changed dramatically, and Apple’s first-ever AR headset—which may look more like glasses than a traditional AR or VR headset—will essentially only provide a remote display for an iPhone. Computing, networking, and indoor and outdoor positioning will all be handled by the iPhone, and connectivity between the two devices will be wireless. That means that Apple’s headset/glasses could be quite small and light.

As such, Apple’s entry into AR hardware will likely shake up the market quite a bit. Compared to current offerings like Microsoft’s HoloLens, the Apple Glasses (or whatever) will be aimed at consumers, not businesses, and will likely be considerably less expensive. It can also take advantage of the popularity and mobility of Apple’s iPhone, whereas Microsoft is forced to make a bulkier standalone headset that is relegated to confined, indoor use cases. In short, Apple is a huge threat to HoloLens.

And it’s been paving the way to this future for years. In addition to incorporating ARKit capabilities into iOS, a move that has unleashed a torrent of AR apps for iPhone and iPad, Apple is known to have filed for many patents related to AR hardware. One involves a method by which the Apple Glasses display can be overlaid on a car’s windshield, providing a dynamic heads-up display for the riders.

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