The much-rumored Apple Glasses still remain somewhat of a mystery, as there have been precious few solid leaks or rumored around a pair of augmented reality smart glasses the company is supposedly cooking up.
We had thought the Apple Glasses (also referred to as Apple Glass by some tech insiders) would be coming sooner rather than later. But it's looking ever more likely that we will still have at least a couple of years to wait before they are revealed. It seems more plausible the Apple AR/VR headset would launch first.
Apple Glasses could run on a proprietary operating system uncovered in the final version of iOS 13, though we like the name glassOS. The augmented reality framework shows up multiple times in code and text documents, meaning Apple is likely testing activation and application in some capacity. Either way, this is what it'll take for me to wear Apple Glasses
Here's everything else we know about Apple Glasses, including the potential release date, price, design and specs.
Latest Apple Glasses news (updated April 19)
- The AR Glasses race could be heating up, with Facebook and Amazon rumored to be working on something to rival Apple Glasses
- Could Apple Glasses make an appearance at the March 8 Apple Event? A teaser from Greg Joswiak hints that something AR-centric will.
- Apple could be working on 'realityOS' a custom operating system for its future AR and VR gadgets.
- Tim Cook has teased Apple's future AR plans, promising the company is investing in the area. It's not confirmation, but this does suggest Apple has plans for more AR spaces beyond what's currently available on iOS.
Apple Glasses release date rumors
We would not expect the Apple Glass release date to be anytime soon. That's because an Apple AR/VR headset is expected first, which is tipped to arrive in late 2022 or early 2023.
The Apple Glass would follow after that. Initial reports from both Bloomberg and The Information said the device could appear in 2023, but the reports themselves date from 2019. And a lot can change in a couple of years.
Apple VR and mixed reality headset vs. Apple Glasses
In addition to Apple Glass, the Apple VR and mixed reality headset is also in the works, and could be less complex and closer to launch.
The Apple VR and mixed reality headset reportedly features ultra-high-resolution screens and a cinematic speaker system that should enable realistic visual experiences, according to people who have seen prototypes.
Those sources also said the headset looks like a slimmer, fabric-swathed, Oculus Quest, but the design isn't final as the company continues testing to determine the ideal fit for most head shapes.
There's no word on price, though we don't expect it to be cheap. The Quest starts at $399, while HTC's Vive costs $799 and Microsoft's HoloLens 2 is a whopping $3,500. Reports claim Apple's headset could be between $1,000 and $3,000 when it launches.
Like its competitors, the Apple VR and mixed reality headset will reportedly benefit from its own App Store, where users can access gaming, video streaming and communications software. Voice assistant Siri will be tasked with controlling the headset, though a physical remote and body tracking controls are reportedly being tested as well.
As for a potential release date, the VR headset is on pace to debut next year and be released in mid-2022.
Something may also debut at the March 8 Apple Event, if a teaser from Apple's Greg Joswiak is anything to go by. But whether it's Apple Glasses, the long-rumored VR/AR headset, or something else entirely isn't clear.
Apple Glasses price
According to Prosser the Apple Glasses are currently priced at $499, plus prescription fees. Now that may seem low, especially compared to competing augmented reality headsets like the Microsoft Hololens 2.
Hololens 2 has a price tag of $3,500 but a big part of of its cost comes from having all the electronics needed to run the AR experience built into the headset.
Apple Glass, rather, will rely on a companion iPhone for processing, so it will have significantly less parts and complexity than Hololens. It'll work more like the Vuzix Blade smart glasses, which have a built-in camera and Alexa integration.
Still, Vuzix Blade starts at $799. Apple's entry point is significantly more accessible, costing as much as some of it's top-specced smartwatches.
Apple Glasses features: What they'll actually do
According to a Bloomberg report, the Apple AR Glasses will bring information from your phone to your face. Specifically, the eyewear "are expected to synchronize with a wearer’s iPhone to display things such as texts, emails, maps, and games over the user’s field of vision."
Apple also has plans for third-party apps, and is considering a dedicated app store, similar to how you get apps for the Apple TV and Apple Watch.
Furthermore, a patent granted to Apple has further fuelled the rumor that Apple Glass won’t need prescription lenses as the smartglasses will automatically adjust for people with poor eyesight using an “optical subassembley”. However, this patent could be for a standalone smartphone-powered VR headset or a second-generation pair of Apple smartglasses.
A more recent patent also suggests that Apple may employ a projection-based system that beams images directly into the user's eye. This way Apple would skip the need for any sort of transparent display.
The beam would likely be able to ensure the image always stays in focus too, avoiding the issue of displays that also double as prescription lenses. Presumably, however, the frames would still be able to double as regular prescription glasses for those that need them.
The patent also claims that this avoids a lot of the pitfalls people may suffer in VR and AR. Apple explains that some issues, including headaches, nausea, and eye strain occur because the brain it trying to focus on objects in the distance, when the reality is they're on a display less than an inch in front of the eyes. Because retinal projection better mimics how the eyes take in light anyway, these problems can be avoided.
Another Apple glass patent describes how you might be able to change out your backgrounds on the fly, similar to zoom. The patent describes how a headset could perform chroma keying, which is replacing a solid color background with something else.
The headset would “format camera images, detect the selected color range and make a composite with the virtual content. “
One Apple Glass patent points to how it could let you view parts of the world you want to see, similar to Google's Street View. The difference is that this view would be projected directly onto the Apple Glass lenses. And you could digitally teleport to different locations.
Apple has a similar feature in the Apple Maps app now called Look Around, but this would be much more immersive on Apple Glass.
A new Apple patent reveals that the Apple Glass may be able to let you change backgrounds on the fly, just like Zoom, too.
One of the more out there Apple patents suggest that Apple Glass could help you see better in the dark, via depth sensors that provide a greater look at the world around you.
Apple Glasses may also be able to track your finger and hand movements more accurately thanks to some smart rings Apple has patented. Not only will that negate the need for many (if any) external sensors, the system may be more accurate this way.
Plus the rings can detect what a user is holding in their hands, so the Apple Glasses can act accordingly. So if you're holding an Apple Pencil, the glasses will track your movements and translate them into handwritten text.
Another recent Apple patent makes mention of “privacy eyewear,” which would hint at a form of smart glasses, possibly the Apple Glasses, and how they could be used to keep what's on an iPhone's display private.
The idea here is that an iPhone's display would be blurred and only clearly visible through the pair of Apple smart glasses; see the patent image above.
Apple Glasses design
The most current Apple Glass prototype reportedly looks like an “un-intimidating” pair of plastic glasses, while marketing materials suggest a Clark Kent-esque design.
It has a LiDAR scanner on the right temple, but no other cameras for privacy reasons (although that could change.) The glasses also come with a plastic stand with wireless chargers.
Being an accessory to the iPhone will definitely has implications on the Apple Glass design. Though the glasses won't be lightweight as your Ray-Ban aviators, they could be light enough and comfortable enough to work as everyday glasses.
There are no plans for the first generation of Apple Glass to come in a tinted variety. For the near future, you're stuck using your regular 'ole sun blockers. But if Apple Glass takes off, perhaps the company would consider expanding its offerings.
Apple Glass might also have a modular trick up its sleeve. The rumored pair of mixed reality glasses could feature swappable arms that each supply a distinct purpose or carry out a different function.
As for the Apple Glass displays, the headset may use Sony OLED displays for AR, according to display analyst Ross Young.
Apple Glasses specs
There’s no known specs about the Apple Glass yet, but we can speculate based on what we know about the current tech. For example, it will at least have the same field of view (52-degrees) and resolution (47 ppi) as the Hololens 2.
If Apple aims to create a true augmented reality solution — as opposed to a heads-up display that shows 2D floating notifications or maps, like Google Glass — it’s reasonable to expect the Apple Glasses to connect directly to the iPhone on a dedicated Wi-Fi connection.
If the iPhone has to process all the video captured by the glasses’ cameras and send back the 3D imagery to the glasses at a very high frame per second rate (a bare minimum of 60Hz, with a 120Hz refresh being optimal), it will require a much higher bandwidth than what Bluetooth can provide.
As for battery life, we can also expect a minimum of three hours if Apple wants to be competitive although we can assume that people will be more forgiving about this — especially if Apple provides with some kind of wireless charging glasses case that can extend its operative time through the day like with the Apple AirPods.
Apple Glasses privacy and patents
A patent spotted by Patently Apple explores a number of ways in which Apple Glass recording can be made obvious to bystanders who would prefer not to be caught on camera.
One option explored by Apple is making the camera module removable. “The modular accessory would also make it possible for venues such as bars and theaters to ban the modular accessory while still allowing the HMD frame (without the accessory) into the venues,” the patent reads.
Apple also imagines using lights to show when the device is recording, but unlike the original smart glasses, trying to get around this could ensure that the camera simply doesn’t work.
The patent describes how the lights on the camera could pulse in an encrypted pattern, with the lens capturing reflections in the recorded environment. If the camera can’t detect the pattern, recording could be disabled according to the patent.
As a third option, Apple suggests an alternative where the camera is always embedded, but disabled unless a modular key is attached to the frames.
Apple Glasses realityOS
A whole new device form factor requires a tweaked operating system, and it looks like that’s what Apple will be providing, with reference to “realityOS” in App Store upload logs by eagle-eyed developers.
There's not much information on this potential software, but it would make sense for Apple to come up with a custom OS for it's VR and AR gadgets. We'd hazard a guess that such an operating system would have more in common with iOS than macOS.
Apple Glasses wish list: What we want
Glasses that look like glasses: We would like some natural looking glasses, like the ones in the concepts that you see on this page. I’m sure that Apple wants the same thing. No one wants AR glasses that look like geek-wear.
AR in full 3D: Some people would like just a heads-up display, but the true power of AR comes from full 3D integration. For Apple Glasses to be successful, you should be able to run any iOS AR app that currently works on the iPhone through the wearable device.
At least 8 hours of battery life: Assuming you're not running 3D AR apps all of the time and are periodically looking at notifications and 2D apps in between, Apple should be able to find a way to make Apple Glasses last through an average workday, though it may not happen in the first generation.
Here's everything else it'll take for me to wear Apple Glasses.
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