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Apple’s AR glasses may ship sooner than anyone expected

Published Jan 5th, 2021 6:49PM EST
Apple Glasses Price
Image: Martin Hajek

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  • Apple’s long-rumored Augmented Reality glasses recently entered its ‘second phase of development.’
  • While some reports point to Apple releasing a pair of AR glasses in 2022, one of the top Apple analysts this week said the product could arrive in 2021.

A new report from Digitimes (via MacRumors) relays that Apple’s rumored Augmented Reality-powered glasses recently entered its “second phase of development.” While specific details remain scarce, the report strongly suggests that Apple’s AR glasses project — which is said to encompass more than 1,000 engineers and researchers — remains ongoing and may see the light of day sooner rather than later.

This latest development comes just a few months after a report from The Information claimed that Apple’s AR glasses “passed the prototype stage and entered trial production.”

The Information notes:

The lenses use a polarized system, similar to the technology in 3D movie glasses, which create the illusion of depth using stereoscopic images, the person said. The technology is similar to that in other AR and VR devices already on the market from Microsoft, Magic Leap and Facebook…

The person said making the AR lenses is especially challenging because they are composed of multiple, extremely thin layers of different synthetic materials, each of which is susceptible to bubbles, scratches and other marks. To reduce defects, the lenses must be manufactured in dust-free zones known as clean rooms.

Incidentally, reputed Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo recently issued an investor note claiming that Apple might release its first AR product sometime in 2021. Previous reports, if you recall, hinted that Apple’s AR glasses wouldn’t arrive until early 2022.

All told, there’s mounting evidence that development on Apple’s long-rumored and somewhat mythical product is progressing.

While specifics about what type of functionality a pair of Apple-designed AR glasses will bring to the table remain murky at best, we’ve seen rumblings that Apple’s AR glasses will likely include a microphone to enable Siri commands and allow for phone calls. We’ve also seen reports that the device will ship with an accelerometer.

That said, Apple’s AR glasses will likely be more of an iPhone accessory than a standalone device. As some rumors have intimated, Apple’s AR glasses will primarily display information from a connected iPhone that will do most of the computational heavy lifting.

Due to design considerations and concerns about battery life, other reports have said that the first iteration of Apple’s AR glasses will not include a camera.

Design-wise, Apple’s AR glasses are said to look like a regular pair of glasses, albeit with a slightly thicker frame.

With respect to price, well, that’s kind of hard to gauge when we’re dealing with a product that doesn’t officially exist at the moment. Still, you might recall that someone purporting to be an insider at Foxconn a few years ago hinted that Apple was aiming for a price point in the $600 range. The price Apple ultimately goes with will hinge on a variety of factors so it’s probably best to take any price-related rumors with a grain of salt right now.

News of Apples’s continued development of AR-powered glasses comes hot on the heels of what was arguably the busiest year in Apple history. Aside from launching its most ambitious iPhone lineup to date, the company also released new iPads, a new iteration of the Apple Watch, a slew of new accessories, and last but not least, new MacBook models with Apple-designed M1 processors.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.