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Apple is reportedly working with Valve on a totally new type of product like nothing we’ve seen

Published Nov 4th, 2019 6:50AM EST
Apple AR Glasses Release Date
Image: Alex Tai/SOPA Images/Shutterstock

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Every once in a while, some analysts claim that Apple has to develop brand new products to reduce its bottom line’s reliance on the success of the iPhone. But Apple only releases products that make sense in the grand scheme of things, and that scheme includes the iPhones. Apple proved in recent years that it has a plan in place for making up for lost iPhone sales, and all the brand new products it happened to have released during the period were intimately related to the iPhone. While it’s unreasonable to expect every new Apple product to redefine a business, it happened with the Apple Watch and with the AirPods, both wearable devices launched in the past five years. We had smartwatches and wireless headphones before these two hit stores, but both the Apple Watch and AirPods set the tone in the industry — and they were both made for the iPhone, although the AirPods work great with anything else. Nobody is really calling for Apple to enter a new product category, but the company might soon do it. Apple is rumored to release a brand new type of product, one that’s been starring in more and more rumors of its own. And the latest story claims that Apple might do something different this time around and partner with Valve, a well-known gaming company, on this device that’s supposed to work primarily with an iPhone.

Apple confirmed that augmented reality (AR) is a core technology for its future, making ARKit a core part of iOS years ago and upgrading AR experience on iPhone and iPad ever since. The best way to enjoy AR, however, is by using AR glasses, a product that Apple has been developing for the past few years. 2020 may finally be the year the Apple Glasses, as we’ve been calling them, to hit stores.

Initially, the AR glasses wearable would be an iPhone companion. The glasses would require a connection to the handset to combine reality with digital content from apps. The glasses could project on the retina notifications, navigation data, and anything else that Apple and developers create.

But once the technology allows it, the glasses might replace the iPhone, in a future where voice together with gestures might deliver better ways of interacting with computers than touch screens.

The first Apple Glasses are supposed to drop at some point next year, and Apple is supposedly teaming up with Valve to make them. At least that’s according to Digitimes (via MacRumors), a source that has a mixed track record at predicting Apple’s news.

The report says that the Apple Glasses might be released in the second half of 2020 at the earliest, with Taiwan’s Quanta Computer and Pegatron supposed to assemble them. A second-half 2020 launch date makes sense for the product, as that’s when the 2020 iPhones are supposed to launch. And next year’s iPhones are expected to not only deliver a brand new design, but also 5G connectivity.

It’s unclear why Apple is partnering with Valve to develop the AR glasses, but the report is in line with previous stories that claimed that Apple is working with third-party brands for the glasses. Well-known Apple insider Ming-Chi Kuo said as much as well recently, but he offered an early 2020 launch date for the device, with mass-production set to start by the end of 2019.

Even Apple hinted that an AR glasses product launch might be imminent, by including imagery pointing to wearable headsets in Xcode 11 and iOS 13. But that doesn’t really mean anything without an official announcement. And after the AirPower embarrassment, a product Apple had to quietly cancel well after announcing plans to make it, Apple might take its time to make sure that sort of blunder never happens again.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.