• A well-known insider says Apple will release an unspecified augmented reality (AR) device this year, in addition to new AirPods, Apple Silicon Macs, and devices with mini-LED displays.
  • Apple has been rumored to be working on AR glasses that would work with an iPhone, and the company has patents that prove it’s studying technologies for AR headsets.
  • In a leaked note to customers, Ming-Chi Kuo said that Apple plans to release the augmented reality device this year, without revealing any details about the gadget.

Apple has a busy year ahead, according to a well-known insider. Ming-Chi Kuo, who has been mostly accurate about unreleased Apple products in the past, shared a research note the various product refreshes that Apple has planned for 2021. Among them, there seems to be a brand new type of product, but one that has long been rumored.

Apple is working on an unspecified augmented reality device, which may very well turn out to be Apple’s first AR glasses. Apple’s interest in AR is well-known. The company turned AR into a major focus for iOS a few years ago, slowly building on those early moves. The newest technology that can benefit AR projects is the LiDAR camera found on the 2020 iPad Pro and the iPhone 12 Pro models. Apple also has several patents describing tech that would power AR glasses, and we saw plenty of rumors detailing Apple’s plans to make such wearable devices.

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As seen by MacRumors, Kuo’s note doesn’t explicitly mention AR glasses. The iPhone and iPad are AR devices themselves, being able to run AR programs. Even MacBooks powered by the M1 chip could be considered AR devices because they can run the same AR apps available on iPhone and iPad.

But Kuo wouldn’t likely mention an augmented reality device if that device wasn’t a standalone AR product. While AR is a big focus for Apple, nobody would describe the iPhone, iPad, or iOS/iPadOS as augmented reality products first. And consumers aren’t buying these devices for their AR capabilities. At least not yet.

Apple isn’t the only company working on AR glasses, and it’s just a matter of time until such a product is released. The initial Apple glasses might be more limited in scope and heavily dependent on the iPhone. But as the technology advances, the glasses might one day replace the iPhone as Apple’s flagship product.

Kuo also listed several other products that Apple is expected to announce this year. The list includes the AirTags trackers, new AirPods, more Apple Silicon Macs, and the first devices to feature mini-LED displays.

Other reports have said that Apple is readying a new generation of AirPods, including a regular model (dubbed AirPods 3) and a new AirPods Pro version (AirPods Pro 2).

As for M1-powered Macs, Apple has already confirmed it will transition its entire Mac lineup to its own processors. The M1 Air and Pro have turned out to be a huge success, so more similar devices will follow. Kuo previously said that Apple plans to launch 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models featuring the Apple M processors this year. He also said these devices could sport mini-LED displays. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is also a candidate for getting a mini-LED screen this year.

Kuo might have a great track record when it comes to spoiling Apple’s plans, but these are still just rumors. Apple usually launches new products in March, so that’s when some of these new devices might be announced. If the AR glasses are coming this year, we’d expect them at the iPhone 13 event in September, considering they’ll be an iPhone accessory, just like the Apple Watch.

Chris Smith started writing about gadgets as a hobby, and before he knew it he was sharing his views on tech stuff with readers around the world. Whenever he's not writing about gadgets he miserably fails to stay away from them, although he desperately tries. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.