It is absolutely no secret that Apple has been investing in AR technologies over the past several years. Tim Cook has been very vocal about Apple’s plans in the past, and has just teased us with details about what that is going to be like going forward.
Various reports have told us that those plans go beyond offering AR features on the best iPhones and best iPads. We’ve heard a lot about the Apple’s VR/AR headset (which could launch as soon as late this year) as well as a few tidbits about the AR-centric Apple Glasses.
Cook teased Apple’s AR future during its Q1 2022 conference call, following a question about Apple’s role in the fledgling metaverse market. Cook didn’t confirm or deny anything, but stated that Apple “sees a lot of potential in this space and are investing accordingly."
Cook also pointed out that the App Store currently hosts 14,000 ARKit-apps, used by millions of people, while reiterating Apple’s previous interest in all things that could be considered metaverse centric.
Of course, there have been rumors Apple is not planning to jump on the metaverse bandwagon. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman previously reported that Apple declared the metaverse “off limits”, and would not be tied to the upcoming AR/VR headset.
The metaverse is designed to offer a virtual alternative to the real world, while Gurman’s sources claim that Apple’s first AR/VR headset is designed for more short-term use — be it for communication, entertainment or gaming.
Rumor has it that the headset is also designed as a stepping stone for the augmented reality Apple Glasses. Everything we’ve heard suggests Apple is aiming to offer something akin to an ordinary pair of spectacles, albeit with a display that can overlay virtual objects over the real world.
AR glasses are something the tech industry has been trying to do for some time now. However, we usually end up with some bulky funky-looking headsets like Microsoft’s Hololens or the Magic Leap. If Apple can pull off what it's rumored to be working on, it would be a huge deal.
However, as usual Apple appears to be playing the long game. The AR/VR headset rumors suggest that it’s primarily meant to help app developers become more familiar with AR ahead of the Apple Glasses launch.
Because any product with poor app support is essentially dead on arrival. 14,000 ARkit apps and counting isn’t bad, but it’s a drop in the bucket compared to 2 million plus apps available to download for iPhones.
These rumors are still unverified, and we heard nothing from Apple about its AR hardware plans. Teases, like Cook’s latest, are all we officially have to work with until the product launches. It’s still unclear when that might be.
Right now the Apple AR/VR headset is rumored to arrive towards the end of the year or early 2023, even as reports of the Microsoft Hololens 3's death have been greatly exaggerated, according to Microsoft. As for the Apple Glasses, they’re even further away than the headset. So we’re just going to have to be patient on both fronts.