Apple wrapped its WWDC 2021 keynote on Monday without teasing any surprises on either the software or hardware side of things. Rumors preceding the event said that Apple might unveil the next-gen MacBook Pro models at the show. Then there were the wilder speculations about Apple making significant augmented reality (AR) announcements at the show. That’s what Apple’s original WWDC teaser image (above) seemed to imply. Apple did neither. There was no new hardware, and the AR features the company did introduce were incorporated in products like Apple Maps and in new coding tools for developers.
The first part of the year was quite heavy on Apple AR Glasses rumors, with leakers detailing two separate products that Apple is developing behind closed doors. One of those stories claimed that Apple might want to hold an in-person AR glasses event later this year to demo the technology. Separately, a trusted Apple leaker revealed various purported specs details for the upcoming Apple mixed reality headset, which will incorporate both AR and VR (virtual reality) features. He claimed at one point the headset might debut in 2021, but he then pushed his estimate back to mid-2022. Ming-Chi Kuo’s newest report points to the second quarter of 2022 as the potential release date window for the mixed reality headset.
The new research note that Kuo penned (via MacRumors) focuses on a key Apple supplier, Genius Electronic Optical. According to Kuo, the component maker will benefit from upcoming VR and AR products from Facebook, Sony, and Apple.
We predict that Apple will launch AR HMD [head-mounted display] devices in 2Q22. The device will provide a video see-through AR experience, so the lens is also needed, and Genius is also a key supplier.
While Kuo did not reveal other details about the Apple “AR HMD” device, this appears to be the mixed reality headset featured in various rumors so far this year, including other research notes from the same analyst. The hybrid reality device is expected to look like the concept below, in line with other VR headsets available commercially.
Unlike VR headsets that project virtual images usually related to content consumption in the form of video or games, Apple’s mixed reality device is also expected to provide the “see-through AR experience” that Kuo mentions above. Apple is working on a sleeker AR-only glasses version that would look a lot like a pair of regular glasses. These will ship around 2025, according to recent estimates.
Kuo said in previous remarks that the mixed reality glasses would feature about 15 cameras, including eight that will support see-through AR experiences and six that will support “innovative biometrics.” Eye-tracking technology will also be involved in the experience, he said in a different note. The device would feature a hybrid Fresnel lens system, with Apple aiming to keep the headset’s weight under 150 grams. The analyst also claimed the headset could cost around $1,000 next year when it launches.
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman speculated a few months ago that Apple might launch the mixed reality headset in the next several months, aiming to hold the event in front of an audience. The mixed reality device would be Apple’s first brand new device in years, so Apple might announce it well before its actual release date. That’s what Apple did with other key products, including the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.
Referring to Genius’s prospects in the near future, Kuo said in the new note that the company would be the exclusive supplier of the wide-angle and telephoto camera lenses for the iPhone 13 lineup, at least through the end of the month. Largan, Apple’s other supplier, is said to have failed to meet Apple’s requirements and was asked to halt deliveries for the time being.