If you've been waiting with bated breath for Apple to release a pair of augmented reality-enabled glasses, you better pull up a chair and get ready to cool your heels for a little while longer. One of the leading Apple analysts just predicted that the Apple Glasses reportedly in development inside the walls of Cupertino won't be ready to ship until 2022 "at the earliest."
But in the same research note predicting a lengthy wait for the Apple Glasses, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also says you can mark your calendars for some new iPads. The analyst expects Apple to roll out a new 10.8-inch iPad later this year, with an 8.5- to 9-inch iPad mini following in the first half of 2021.
Update: Apple analyst Jon Prosser disagrees with Kuo and says that the Apple Glasses are launching between March and June of 2021. He also says that he's seen the glasses and that they are sleek as hell.
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It's worth paying attention to Kuo's forecast, which appeared in a research note seen by 9to5Mac. The analyst has developed a pretty strong reputation for forecasting product launches for the notoriously tight-lipped Apple by cultivating sources within the company's far more chatty supply chain. Back in January, Kuo predicted the launch of a revamped iPhone SE, a new iPad Pro, and updates to the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air during the first half of 2020. All those launches came to pass in recent months.
Given Kuo's track record, then, news that Apple Glasses won't be ready for at least a year-and-a-half will surely disappoint people hoping that Apple is ready to make big moves in augmented reality. Apple Glasses, which at one point had been rumored to arrive some time this year, are expected to work with Apple's iPhone to present information right in front of your eyes.
A steady drumbeat of acquisitions of companies specializing in AR and VR have fueled speculation about Apple's plans to produce an AR accessory. The latest purchase came yesterday (May 14), the same day that Kuo published his forecast about the 2022-or-later launch of the Apple Glasses, when word got out that Apple had bought NextVR.
NextVR specialized in showing sporting events in virtual reality, including football, basketball and boxing, among other events. As of last night, the company's website was promising a "new direction" for NextVR.
That direction could become apparent long before Apple Glasses become a reality. Apple CEO Tim Cook has long been a proponent of AR, and the iPhone 12 expected to arrive this fall is expected to include a LiDAR sensor on some models that could work with new AR-focused apps. We'd expect to hear more about Apple's AR plans at this year's Worldwide Developer Conference, which takes place online starting June 22.
As for the iPads, Kuo expects the 10.8-inch iPad and the subsequent iPad mini models to take a page out of the iPhone SE 2020's book by featuring fast processors and low prices. The current editions of the iPad and iPad mini are powered by the A10 Fusion and A12 Bionic chips, respectively. Apple's iPad Pro tablets feature an A12Z Bionic chip. Kuo's forecast would see to preclude those models featuring a fingerprint sensor embedded beneath the display, as has been rumored for some future Apple tablets.
Apple's current iPad mini features a 7.9-inch display, so Kuo's forecast of a larger screen could suggest that Apple is looking to reduce the bezels on its compact tablet. The current iPad comes with a 10.2-inch screen, so a 10.8-inch model may also mean smaller bezels.
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Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.