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Apple Eyes 2022 Release for AR Headset, 2023 for Glasses (theverge.com)
99 points by apress 24 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 90 comments



If it's 3 to 4 years away from being real, would they really hold a presentation in the theatre? Not exactly an ideal setting for a discussion, and way too early for any kind of useful demonstration.

Also at this early stage in a product's development, Apple very carefully controls and compartmentalises information. The software team wouldn't have any idea what the hardware looks like, or who is working on it. If you know the people in other teams, there's more likelihood of cross-leaking. There's no way their whole road map would be shared with the entire team.

They may well have had some sort of meeting, but I suspect this is a case of extrapolating way too far from piecemeal and confusing scraps of information, combined with a fundamental misunderstanding about how Apple approaches projects like this.


>>> 3 to 4 years away from being real

I think it's worth extrapolating ;)

We're probably not going to see Apple AR tech in soldier HUDs on the battlefield. Or in the F-35. I could be wrong, but it may not be a cultural fit.

The enterprise customer here is the AutoDesk / Adobe client who wants seamless 3D design integreted into digital content creation workflows and even additive manufacturing. And that is very exciting. Being able to animate and composite 3D models with live action video in a holographic environment will make creating movies just as fun as watching them.

But the driver for consumer adoption I believe is entertainment. That's where Ocuclus and Magic Leap seem to be placing company bets. Hit games like Beat Sabre and Vader Immortal give an inkling. Someone is going to create a phenomenon like Avatar for VR and content will never be the same.


Civil aviation: A single headset could replace/augment all displays on GA planes, and add information not generally available of fixed displays, like terrain and weather. Pilots currently fly with iPads for terrain/maps and ask ATC for weather. The reason I believe in this is, cockpits are 50 years old in average, no room for more instruments, there is a lot of money to save and a lot of money available for devices, it’s a “mass market” enough and it is a wealthy/high education population.


> Someone is going to create a phenomenon like Avatar for VR and content will never be the same.

Avatar was a milestone for 3d movies. Would you say movies have never been the same since then?


I absolutely would! And I know what you are getting at. But you can't look at the relatively poor performance of 3D IMAX ticket sales as evidence that classic 2D cinema constitutes a kind of "End of History" culmination of the art form. It's just really hard to make something like "Gravity", which hit like 80%+ 3D sales percentages internationally.

Instead, for a peak into a possible near future I'd look to new immersive experiences such as teamLab's borderless

https://borderless.teamlab.art/

Visitors to Yayoi Kusama's Infinite Mirrored Room at David Zwirner gallery in Chelsea get exactly one minute each to experience the sensation. And it's expected in excess of 100K+ will make the pilgrimage ;)

A Look Inside Yayoi Kusama's New, Eye-Popping NYC Exhibition

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3UmpPF9Bo4


2D cinema may not be a culmination, but the last 100 years of 3D movies makes it pretty clear that it will never be more than a sideshow with occasional sparks of brilliance. The experience isn't good enough.


AR could be more compelling than VR if the tech is there, but there's other issues. While VR has issues with mass market adoption (such as motion sickness) that AR may avoid, it will most likey still have a high price point and a lack of an ecosystem full of compelling content.

I'm sure Apple has been long hard at work here but I would be surprised if this grew beyond a niche product given the state of VR now, so they definitely aren't in a rush.


Could be that Apple is tired of getting the bang taken out of their announcements by internal leakers so they feed them false release dates.

Or Apple learned from their apparently terrible management which caused software quality to plummet. If you announce plans well ahead, more people can say if these plans are feasible.


Where do I even start. feeding teams false release dates is the worst management idea I've ever heard, it's deliberately sabotaging your own chances of success.

On the other hand, expecting that more people having a say very early on if something is feasible will actually lead to better products, is approximately the second worst management idea ever. Towards the end of the product development life-cycle yes, there is an argument for that because more people can try out use cases and situations that are hard to anticipate. But early on, the wisdom of the crowd is your enemy. If large numbers of people thought something was a good idea, everybody would be doing it. Innovations always orriginate from individuals or very small teams.

Consensus will lead you to mediocrity. Innovation by its very nature requires that you must do something unusual and likely dismissed by the consensus. It's not that being different is better by itself, but being the same can't be better by definition.


It seems like it would be extremely hard to manage a engineering project with a false release date provided to the team.


> If it's 3 to 4 years away from being real, would they really hold a presentation in the theatre?

Just a few weeks ago both Kuo [1] and Gurman [2] predicted early 2020 for the AR glasses. Tim Cook's public statements, ARKit and all the rumors have suggested that AR is Apple's focus so I would be very surprised if an Apple VR headset came out first. Curious reporting by The Information

[1] https://www.theverge.com/2019/10/9/20906113/apple-2020-predi...

[2] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-10-21/why-2020-...


Also remember how there were widely reported rumors that Apple had canceled the entire project a little while back, which made no sense given that this is the future of computing and every big tech company has been investing heavily for years.

Given the wild swings of rumors (launching 2020! Canceled! Launching 2023!) it’s almost like Apple is deliberately seeding the market with leaks in order to confuse its real intent. Which would be smart.

My guess with no insider information is they launch smartglasses in 2020 or 2021. First version may not have optical display but still does something cool with a camera.

My reasoning is basically,

1) Snapchat spectacles are getting closer to normal glasses, all you need to do is miniaturize those ridiculous bug eyed lenses

2) ergo Apple needs to get in the market with something fashionable and useful before someone else steals their lunch

2022 is too late, IMO.


Or "all the rumours could be true at once", through a simple misinterpretation of how Apple's internal politics work.

Like, say, Apple could have an AR department with several parallel hardware R&D efforts, where they're constantly cancelling projects when they realize they're dead-end concepts, and putting the staff from them onto new projects.


Yeah, it’s within the realm of possibility that Apple truly is that dysfunctional these days (ie MacBook Pro debacle).

However I don’t think that’s the case here. You have to believe that they have their best resources working on wearables/smartglasses. Look at how Apple Watch and even more so AirPods are just crushing it. Because laptops are the past and wearables are the future. I would wager that this level of dysfunction is kept far from AR.


I'm not seeing how my description was of a dysfunctional business practice. I was attempting to describe a "basic research" arm of a company, one that is trying to advance a field. Some research projects pan out, some don't. And you can't keep your best minds on the ones that don't seem to be going anywhere.

You can research Human-Computer Interaction just like any other research subject, and I wouldn't put it past Apple to have all their best industrial-design staff working on dozens of different AR design prototypes to feed this HCI research, in the hopes of discovering something that creates a whole new AR wearables market segment, rather than just competing in the existing one.

Once they actually "pick an approach" to AR wearables from the firehose of internal HCI R&D projects, then it'd probably be a project of a year-or-so to get it built and shipped (given their existing manufacturing and logistics relationships.) So, when a project is "3-4 years off", I'd expect that to mean—if true—that they're planning on spending the next three years running a tournament of AR approaches; and then build the thing right at the end.


I don't really disagree with the possibility that Apple is working on AR in the way you describe. I guess the point I was trying to make — as a longtime believer in Apple's vision with the Macbook Pro/iPhones/Watch/Airpods to prove it — is that they didn't use to make products from a firehose of internal projects. They had a clear vision for the future and shipped it. Not all of them succeeded (Newton) but during the Jobs era they were right more than not.

This isn't to say that having a tournament of approaches isn't a viable way to figure out a new product. But it speaks to a different, less visionary approach.


I get what you’re saying. I think the difference isn’t so much a lack of a “visionary”, as a lack of decent AR-centered speculative fiction to pull from.

The modern tablet, for example, was essentially designed by the prop designers of Star Trek. The proposed HCI for the device category was entirely laid out by actors fiddling with the prop. No one at Apple needed to have much “vision” to see that if they could pull off something like that without technical constraints forcing any compromises, it’d be a great design.

Most of computing for the last 50 years has been like that in one way or another. We’ve had SF writers, artists, and movie-makers leading the way, and industrial designers cribbing as closely to them as they could. (You can still see this today with driverless-car control-panel designs. You think these designs aren’t just directly copying the “cool car” genre from the 80s?)

(If you’re wondering: “so what made Apple a visionary company, then? That word must mean something...” It’s mostly that they evolved or “massaged” technology in the directions required to get these hypothetical designs built. Rather than building the designs that were possible with commonly-available tech, they invested capital into “operationalizing” previously research-level tech, in order to put it into their devices. A phone you can turn to watch movies in landscape? Better turn “accelerometers” from a weird replacement for mercury switches into a one-cent part!)

But AR is a bit different, in that, while speculative fiction has been somewhat concerned with what AR does (and even more on what VR does), writers in the genre haven’t spent nearly as much time (that I know of, at least) trying to figure out what an AR device that people would be willing to wear would look and work like. So, in this case, the industrial design isn’t just “laying around” waiting for an ID artist to pick it up and say “yes, I’ll make it look like this.” And, on the other side, no audience has been pre-conditioned by this material to think “I want something that looks like the thing I know from book/movie X.”

And, even worse for our intrepid industrial designer—even in the movies based on books that do feature AR wearables, in the movie version, the wearable doesn’t tend to appear at all. AR experiences still exist in such movies, but AR devices, if they’re there at all, are implicit; and most of the time, aren’t even supposed to be there, with AR instead literally an augmentation of reality (using holograms or something) rather than an augmentation of perception. (This is usually a choice by the director: actors act better when they can be in the same room as one-another, reacting to a common “thing” they’re seeing; individual-perceptual AR kind of ruins that, just like cell phones kind of ruin slasher movies.)

Now, mind you, I’m ignoring the elephant-in-the-room of AR in speculative fiction: cyberpunk. But I don’t think Apple could really sell its consumers on perception-changing brain implants, could they? ;) At least, not in 2019...


I'm pretty excited to see what Apple releases. Generally, it seems like they're later to market rather than on the cutting edge of things but bring a high design quality and make tech approachable for a broader audience but this seems like one of those ones where the market hasn't been really made yet. Although, I've been pretty disappointed over the last few years with the quality of their products, especially software. I usually upgrade every ~2 years but for my last device that was 2 years old I was trying to hold out until a new release but it would constantly freeze up and crash after downloading the new software release they usually do when they announce a new phone (not trying to go into conspiracy theories but it seemed a little too convenient that just then is when my phone would start going on the fritz).


Until recently I would have agreed with you. It seems to me that Apple is in a luxurious decline. Cook is great at squeezing money out of their product lines but he's done it at the cost of good will.

I was in the market to upgrade, I love OS X and I was willing to pay a premium... but with crappy keyboards and systems that can't be upgraded it's just was not worth the price tag. I recently switched from my macbook pro to a thinkpad X1. I have to say the first week was hard -- especially the trackpad -- but the adjustment so far has been fine. I'm struck by how much better windows has gotten. Even more, I'm impressed by how innovative it and the eco-system has become again. I think that's the challenge for Apple. How can they stay big and remain innovative? Right now it seems they are coasting on good management and design... but they are missing that element that presumably Jobs brought to the table by directing those elements towards a new innovative vision of a product line.

Anyway, I could be wrong but it seems to me that Apple is coasting. These announcements seem more like a big company flailing around to get in on the next big thing. On the other hand, Apple is great at the self-contained devices (ipad, iphone, etc.) with no moving parts. These products seem rock-solid and I think this is where the real revenue is. My concern is that this money is going to allow everyone to hide from the fact that the company is not as innovative as it used to be.

Interested to hear from others though. My work is elsewhere so I don't track this company closely.


While Apple's Mac line is stumbling a bit, the rest of Apple's hardware is pretty spot on. The Apple Watch, AirPods, iPhone, & iPad are all rock solid. The AR headset is a lot more like the Apple Watch and it's basically slaughtered it's competition and is widely considered a best-in-class product.

The big question mark with Apple isn't hardware, its software. iOS 13 and Catalina were both pretty ambitious and deeply flawed.


iOS 13 can at least be partially explained by the difficulty of tying OS releases together with hardware when both require lengthy pre-planning.


Just having a hard deadline with an annual release cycle is aggressive. Seems like they should be doing a lot of these releases in point upgrades instead of forcing one giant upgrade per year.


>...but with crappy keyboards and systems that can't be upgraded it's just was not worth the price tag.

>Right now it seems they are coasting on good management and design

Are you saying Apple has poorly designed keyboards yet their design is still good?


I mean, if you wanted to be maximally confusing, or insist on pointing at what amounts to a pun, but the person you are responding to neither stepped in your joke nor is saying something unreasonable: most people would use the term "design" to mean "how it looks" not "how it works", and while the word can be used for both purposes, it robs us of an easy distinction. To draw an analogy: Apple is still great at making clothing that looks amazing and feels great to touch, but has become increasingly inept at making sure that clothing fits comfortably in different poses or even simply doesn't fall apart / tear at the slightest stress. Sure, these are both part of the "design" of the dress, but there is a reason why in engineering we don't assume a "designer" knows anything at all about how to make a keyboard that doesn't break.


But that's exactly what good design is. It's not just the look. It's also reliability and choice of materials, and likely at least an overview of the manufacturing and assembly processes. And perhaps even the packaging.

Looks-only designers are almost entirely useless. While it's not true absolutely anyone can sketch nice-looking things, people who can sketch nice-looking things and also have an understanding of the practical constraints that can make the nice-looking thing a practical product (or not) are very rare indeed.

Apple used to excel at both. Under Cook/Ives, the balance shifted to style over substance. Arguably it's still stuck there, especially in software, where the UX and the reliability have both become increasingly poor.

So a pre-announcement of a revolutionary product is nice, but the suspicion is it's primarily there to pump up the stock price and deflect from some of the recent missteps.

Unfortunately the recent missteps have been most obvious in software, so I think it's reasonable to be skeptical about Apple's ability to craft a reliable and outstanding UX for not just one but two completely new classes of products.


„Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it's really how it works.“ Steve Jobs

https://www.wired.com/1996/02/jobs-2/


In the past, Apple's entrance with improved design has bolstered a market quite a bit; iPod and iPhone are examples. I feel like if Apple does release something, the market response will inform us whether AR itself has a viable market at all.

I mean, if Apple can't bolster the market for such a thing, perhaps no one really wanted it after all.


>bring a high design quality

I can picture Jony Ives cutting glasses out of the cereal box. Hopefully those will be thin enough for him.


>it seems like they're later to market rather than on the cutting edge of things but bring a high design quality

That was true of Apple under Jobs but Tim Cook's legacy is one of terrible quality assurance and superficial design over considering function. Apple is coasting on their legacy.


Apple have always had a fairly consistent hit-to-miss ratio, so it’s easy to pick and choose products to find evidence for a set narrative.

As a counter-example to yours, the faux stitched leather of Find My Friends was all Steve Jobs, whereas the Apple Watch is all post-Jobs.


Remember that Jobs gave us the toaster desktop, which in my mind is still their very best example of superficial design over considering function. (Well that or the early QuickTime player for OS X.)

Meanwhile, AirPods are a phenomenal product. Up there with the best work Apple has done.


Do you mean the Cube? It’s a nice computer. Fanless and practically silent, with very easy to access internals. It was too expensive, obviously.


headphones? I guess I'm surveying their entire ecosystem


Here's hoping it's not just another Hololens flash in the pan. I've been holding out hope for 5 years now that Apple will come in and do it right, and trigger another paradigm shift for computing akin to the mobile revolution. AR is absolutely going to be a game changing technology some day, but the current hardware is simply nowhere near what's needed for mass consumer adoption.


There's hardware considerations that are way outside Apple's expertise. They need display manufacturers to get smaller, sharper, brighter by another order of magnitude before we'll see something small enough to go into a pair of glasses that can deliver the visuals that Magic Leap promised 5 years ago. The software is definitely still work in progress but has made huge strides and is probably good enough to do some amazing things. The biggest problem by far is field of view.


As long as apple keeps their image as the company keeping up with the best tech (doesn’t matter if it’s true or not), it’ll be huge for them to release anything. It’ll make others jump in and bring a lot more money into the industry.

The AirPods are a good first step in showing they can make small, lightweight devices that are easy to use. The glasses will probably need a charging case in the same way. Also, they are keeping their high end phones a bit overpowered for normal smartphone usage which means they can use that extra power to do the required rendering. This allows them to offload it all from the glasses to the phone. I believe we are some time off from standalone glasses.


The Apple we love is the Apple which takes decades to line up the technologies, materials, and interfaces needed to polish a future vision down to the gem which will totally change how we interact with technology.

The wearables unit of Apple does seem like it’s where the big innovations are happening, even if a lot of that innovation is in materials and just perfecting the user experience of something basic like charging.


Holding out since 96' here, while a consumer-level device with mass adoption is still some way off, the tooling to produce content is advancing at an impressive rate, given content, as opposed to new technology, is the main driver of media technology it's exciting to see what the next few years will bring and it's great to have another large company on board to drive adoption.


As long as you need to wear a headset or glasses, I have a hard time believing it will take off beyond the niches it has already found believers in.

A real tech fatigue seems to be setting in with lots of people and the last thing many of us want (including many here) is more tech in their lives. I think it's especially true of tech that isolates you like AR and VR does.


I don’t think people will think twice about wearing a headset if the content is intensely compelling or the use cases it enables are genuinely revolutionary.

Most importantly it needs to be packaged in a way that you don’t need to be a motivated techie to pick apart the offerings, understand specs, setup a bespoke system, and just generally try so hard to get onboard.

I’m not sure about the thesis that people want less tech in their lives. Look at the widespread adoption of “smart speakers” which to me seems like the ultimate expression of superfluous technology.


Smart speakers are superfluous? Only if you don't find them useful. My wife comes downstairs every morning and says "okay Google what's the weather?" My daughter says "Alexa, play [some pop singer]".

As a technology person, I tend to agree with you that these devices fall short of real life changing functionality, yet obviously many people out there love it.


> I’m not sure about the thesis that people want less tech in their lives. Look at the widespread adoption of “smart speakers”

I think smart speakers aren't fatiguing because they are so passive. They sit idle, doing nothing until you call for them. Then they respond and return to idle. If using an Apple HomePod required special headphones, it wouldn't have sold at all.

That said, I think there's a decent market for AR/VR devices but I don't think it's gigantic. It might be Playstation big (10^8), but probably not iPhone big (10^9).


A startup called Tilt Five recently concluded a Kickstarter for their initial AR game system. The demos look cool enough that I was tempted to participate, but I’m not a gamer so $600 for two kits is out of my budget.

It looks like they already “sold” just shy of 5000 units, with estimated delivery in mid-2020.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tiltfive/holographic-ta...


I'm not sure how much of a "flash in a pan" Hololens was. It did not seem intended for mass consumption and instead had an extremely small niche for enterprise or business use. Microsoft is going to release its second iteration this year. I suppose it is a way for Microsoft to get real world data for incremental improvements without alienating the wider public from the current limitations.


I think this is turning out to be harder than any of the big companies anticipated. IIRC Xbox had an internal roadmap that put AR in 2014, a year before a VR headset which is an interesting look at our collective ignorance about the type of problems we are looking at.

I do think Apple are the best placed to come to market on this though. Everything we’re currently seeing from them, like their over-powered mobile chipsets, seemingly premature ARKit, and Face ID sensor array are IMO all part of the push to cranking the price/performance of their hardware and software specifically for these upcoming headsets rather than addressing the current market. Which is genius, using the momentum of the iPhone to propel them into this new market.

I wonder if we’ll see them pull away in capabilities the same way the Watch has.


Although it feels inevitable, I think what’s interesting to consider is that history would indicate that Apple is likely NOT to be the company that really ushers in the shift from ~5 inch screens we hold in front of us to an AR-based world.

In the same way that in early 2000s, yes, Dell definitely moved us forward with a great line of laptops, but the Sony Vaio (and, later, MacBooks) are what brought laptops to consumers in a real way, and yes of course, Motorola and Nokia et al made the first real push at mobile, but Apple made mobile phones a mass-market accessory item.

I wonder if Apple will end up being the Dell / Nokia of the AR world, and some company we haven’t yet considered ends up really owning the revolution.


I’m not sure what about this article specifically that makes you feel that way.

You are correct, in general, that firms that are successful because of an innovative technology, typically get surpassed by the next innovative technology to come to the market. See Clayton Christensen’s The Innovators Dilemma.

However, Apple is one company that seems to have broken the trend, several times, in fact. Past success is not always an indicator of future success, but I’m personally not willing to bet against Apple at this point.


Apple dominates the smartwatch category, but it's not a widely mainstream one. (Fitness watches are actually more widespread and popular but that is besides the point.) AR could end up being in a similar position. Perhaps over a very long time that technology will be miniaturized and sophisicated enough while having cheaper options that it will become mainstream.

The same predictions of Apple creating and dominating a mass market have been made over and over. While they do dominate, they aren't necessarily as widespread as the iPhone and instead serve as status signifiers for the brand and their technological prestige over the competition.

The iPad was predicted to herald in the post-PC revolution, and while it had an impact, it failed to completely displace the PC, and its once surging growth has plateaued due to its limitations as a convenient consumption device.

Apple infamously increments in features over time so I expect their AR solution to be presented as a step towards the future that the Apple Watch was presented as. I'm still waiting for that touted smartwatch-enabled future. Apple Watches are present here and there but smartwatches are still niche from being too expensive for an impulse buy and do not outweigh their use value compared to a smartphone.

AR holds a lot of promise, but if it does disrupt anything, I would not expect it for a long time due to VR's difficulties in attracting and maintaining the mainstream from cost, ease of use, technological limits, and a vibrant ecosystem of killer apps. I would instead expect it to perform similarly to the Apple Watch until I can see for myself that they can deliver on great innovative changes in AR technology and demonstrable use cases to justify AR. Apple can make great quality products, but they're not going to forge a future out of nothing like the Apple Watch was hyped to be capable of doing. Perhaps at best, AR could perform as well as the iPad.


Why couldn't Apple (who usually makes the highest quality devices in each sector) be the company to repeat what they did for smartphones / laptops for AR gear?


This is odd because history actually suggests the exact opposite. It suggests that not only will Apple be the company that makes AR a category for the mainstream (if it is to be one at all), but that they'll also own the revolution as well. Apple Watch and AirPods are two recent examples that make the case for the latter.

If you just do a cursory analysis of the potential competitors and what they're good at, it becomes actually very easy to say that Apple will own this market.


People are comparing this to the mobile revolution but I am curious to know why history should repeat itself. As far as I can tell there's currently no secret sauce that will make AR usable that Apple is uniquely in the position to monopolize (needing higher FOV, rendering opaque objects, etc).

Is it just the ability to drive cultural adoption to avoid "glasshole" stigma?


Apple has capabilities that others don't have. Apple can design their own batteries, cases, utility chips, CPU, GPU, screens. They have exceptional assembly factories, where they can assemble with very low mechanical tolerance and calibrate HW better than most of the competition. They have patented several new methods for making glass. They have non garbage collected UI capabilities, low level GFX API developers.

Apple is in a unique position to get an edge on the AR/VR market.


AR technology development is really just about turning the crank, and Apple is best at that nowadays.


Apple's software first approach and last mover mentality will give them a huge advantage in the Augmented Reality Space.


Apple is not a parts manufacturer/inventor; they assemble parts wonderfully with, on occasion, some customization, so the obvious question is: where are the displays? Diffractive waveguides are a very disappointing display for most uses; not bright enough, poor FOV, bleeding, etc. For a summary, see [1].

Without an external vendor to make the breakthrough in displays, Apple is in the same position as everyone else - talking about an AR future that looks great until you get there.

[1] https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-making-good-ar-displays-s...


>Apple is not a parts manufacturer/inventor

Manufacturer maybe not, but inventor? They have all kinds of patents and inventions of their own, their own CPUs and processing units, etc...

>they assemble parts wonderfully with, on occasion, some customization

They order custom parts more often than not, with very heavy customization.

Does anybody think that the displays for a 2022 Apple VR device (assuming the rumor is true) would be seen anywhere outside of Apple labs, and be e.g. available as off-the-shelve parts with merely "some customization" required on top in 2019?


Come to think of it, grandparent was probably thinking of the desktop space -- where Apple basically uses Intel, AMD, etc parts + some modifications.

But that's absolutely not the case in the iOS, Apple Watch, etc space. They make their own everything, from best of breed mobile CPU designs, to custom DSPs that are the 2019 1000x equivalents of the Amiga of yore (remember Paula, Denise, Agnus?), own boards, and everything in between.


Apple invents all of their key processors i.e. A, S, T, W, U.

They have also invented technologies like FaceID, TouchID, 3D Touch, MicroLED, LTPO etc.

The idea that they merely assemble other companies is just laughable.


"Apple is in the same position as everyone else”

Not by a wide margin. They have a reputation of paying for the development of unusual/new production methods, and the bank account to go with it.

For example, ‘everybody’ can think “I’ll use CNC milling machines to make by laptop bodies”, but few have the perseverance and the money to perfect that at scale.

If there is a display that’s even a quarter good, they will be willing to spend millions or even billions, to perfect it and work on manufacturing it at scale.


MicroLED in Apple Watch seems to be a step in that direction: https://9to5mac.com/2019/07/22/microled-apple-watch-report/


There is a rumor they're working with Valve on this.


I must be the odd man out. I don't want something that I have to wear. I wear glasses and contacts and I don't want to wear those either. I see AR as being great as, say, a HUD in a car. But I just don't want wearables.


Think in terms of iteration.

On your desk > on your lap > in your pocket > on your wrist > on your face > on your eyes > in your body.


This is even worse. I want to be able to disconnect and just ... be human.


But you can always disconnect, there's no reason that you can't put your cellphone or even a physical connection to brain on airplane mode.


> Apple CEO Tim Cook has previously said that he regards augmented reality as “a big idea, like the smartphone,”

IDK about the timeline, but inevitable that they'll want to do it.

A heads-up display enables larger displays and smaller devices, and seems inevitable to me, too.

Google Glass seemed to fail because of privacy. But subtracting the camera was too much for Google engineers to bear... in contrast, Apple has a history of subtracting features when necessary. They can also design cool eye-wear.

The only problem with my theory is that, without a camera, it isn't "AR"...


The problem with Google Glass was that it was completely useless. The only feature it had was taking pictures with the camera and viewing notification pop ups one at a time. If it had a use, then the awkward start where people got mad about the camera would be remembered as a brief anomaly, like horse riders getting mad about cars.


Was the display that low-res? You couldn't watch video, browse the web, read pdf's, lookup maps etc?

EDIT It was 640×360. 360p is low, but typical for mobile youtube not so long ago. You can get an 80x45 xterm, with an 8x8 font.


You could theoretically have done any of those things, but it really would have sucked.


Is it just the resolution (which could be improved) or something else?


Also that it was a tiny screen with terrible colors and some weird iridescent stuff going on because of the mirror system.


Why do you say Google Glass failed? They are still developing and selling it. A new version was just release six months ago.


More, failed as "a big idea, like the smartphone". Google launched it like that too.


By that standard Magic Leap, Hololens, Oculus, and the others are all failures too.


Well, yes. They failed to be the next big thing. (Maybe they are profitable in a small market, or maybe they are living on VC?)

20-30 years ago, there was a flurry of VR devices...

Hasn't ML been caught in fraud a couple of times now?


Seems they are selling it to enterprises. Can you buy one pair as a regular consumer?


They don't sell them directly at all. You have to go through a dealer.


I hope that they keep pushing for self contained independent devices. My wife and I love our Apple Watches and not needing an iPhone (assuming your watch has a data plan) is a game changer,

The Oculus Quest is self contained, a great product, but a bit heavy. I expect an AR headset would also work in VR mode and I hope Apple makes it light and comfortable. It is amazing what functionality is packed into the Apple Watch and AirPods and I have confidence Apple will get it right with a headset. Then the question is, will people want them.


Like AR, the future of VR mainstream adoption is in self-contained standalone independent devices. John Carmack of Oculus mentioned that user retention for the mobile snapon Gear VR was only one or two uses before never using again. There's too much friction for the common masses to get into VR that way. Hence the Note 10 dropping support for Gear VR and Carmack giving a "eulogy" for the device and Oculus focusing on the Go and Quest (with the Rift remaining for enthusiasts). The Quest has been far more successful than the Rift ever was due to its standalone nature for compelling VR experiences. (game developers could have made up to 3-4x more sales on Quest compared to the Rift)

Apple has to make AR standalone. Smartwatches faced flack for not initially being standalone for being so expensive. While it did become more and more standalone, it still isn't a compelling use scenario for the masses to go out and spend that money.

AR could have more promise than what Google Glass had, but it would have to be far more compelling than what the masses can already get from their iPhones. As a point of comparison, VR right now is within 1% of the entire Steam population, which is then a fraction of the world's masses. There's interest but people at large aren't biting yet for various reasons. Apple's AR could end up in a similar situation where it would be nice to have but remains out of reach.


A lot depends on use cases. I, on the other hand, got an Apple Watch with a data plan and I canceled the plan because I never used it outside of my phone's range.

That said, there's a lot of potential for comfortable wearables replacing a phone in your pocket for many purposes. We tolerate carrying wallets everywhere just as we tolerated carrying wallets and keys everywhere because that's just the way things are. But it doesn't need to be that way forever.

I have a lot of questions about how AR will progress. I can imagine having essentially a high fidelity HUD but I'm not sure either how close we are to enabling something like that technically and how hard it will be to get mainstream consumers over the Glasshole effect of having omnipresent connected video (or maybe even if they should get over it).


People made a lot of fun of me for wearing Google Glass several years for a solid month straight. Like, every day, to work and back. It was in fact clunky and rough around the edges, but even at that stage I experienced moments of the kind of glee I felt when I first used an iPhone. AI and Machine Learning will need to do a lot more heavy lifting in an AR glasses world, but the experience will just blow our phones out of the water. And it'll be amazing.



Very interested to see what a full AR product from Apple looks like. I am always impressed whenever I toy with their ARKit stuff on iOS devices, but I am curious how that translates beyond toy applications.


I hope they take the approach that Focals by North did with their smart glasses. Non-obtrusive heads up display for notifications/navigation, and glasses that actually look like normal glasses.


I somehow read this as the code name for Glasses is "Apple Eyes".


Or maybe just 'i'? The ultimate evolution of product names.


Bigger news to me is that this paywall is $40 a month to get through. Wow!

Could anyone provide more information about this publication and why the price is so steep?


I think this is geared towards business and rich valley people. The few with deep pockets over a wider audience.


The core of the pitch for the "The Information" is that they do reporting that moves markets; i.e. investors should subscribe to get access to information they can use to make decisions ahead of their competitors. A lot of their reporting, like this article, tries to look down the road on new products and markets.

The founder Jessica Lessin spent years at WSJ (as Jessica Vascellaro), but got into trouble for getting too close to her sources; for example traveling to private parties with them. The Information takes more of a utilitarian, service model to their work, where ethical concerns about source relationships are less important than the quality of the information you provide to subscribers (hence the name).


Thanks for that explanation, that makes more sense.




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