Reports from several sources claim that Apple is working on various smart glass products that will deliver augmented (AR) and virtual reality (VR) experiences — a mixed reality (MR) device would combine AR and VR features. The MR headset should be the first to launch, featuring a design similar to other VR glasses available in stores right now with sophisticated hardware that includes more than a dozen cameras, eye-tracking features, and two 8K displays for content. The more ambitious AR glasses are supposed to arrive in 2025, featuring a minimalistic design. The AR device would look a lot like regular eyeglasses, as they will project digital content on top of real-life objects.
A new report from a trusted Apple leaker says that the MR glasses might be on track to launch next year. The report follows claims from Bloomberg that Apple would want to introduce the mixed reality headset during a press event that could take place later this year in front of an actual audience.
“Sometime in the next several months, the company is poised to announce a mixed reality headset, its first major new device since 2015,” Bloomberg wrote a few weeks ago. “If possible, Apple won’t want to make such a critical announcement at an online event. It wants employees, the media, its partners, and developers in the room.”
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says in a new note to customers obtained by MacRumors that Apple’s mixed reality headset would launch in 2022 without providing an actual release date window. Previously, the analyst said the glasses would arrive in the middle of next year.
Kuo has offered reliable information about unreleased Apple products in the past few years, seemingly obtained from various Apple suppliers in Asia that hold key component contracts.
Kuo already made several claims about the mixed reality glasses this year, saying that the MR headset might cost around $1,000. The gadget would weigh under 200 grams, the leaker said, with the current prototype weighing up to 300 grams. The MR headset features 15 cameras, Kuo said in a previous note, including eight cameras for see-through AR experiences, six for “innovative biometrics,” and one for environmental detection. It’s unclear whether the innovative biometrics cameras handle eye-tracking or not, but the MR glasses will also feature eye-tracking support, which will be achieved via specialized Fresnel lenses.
Bloomberg and Kuo might be talking about the same device. A 2021 surprise announcement would make plenty of sense for the Apple MR glasses, considering we’re looking at a brand new product. Apple did announce some key first-gen products several months before they were ready to hit stores. The iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch are all included in that category. Even the M1 Macs were announced and made available to developers several months before the November 2020 event.
The MR glasses should follow a similar path. It’s not just another breakthrough gadget for Apple, but its success depends on great user experiences, and that’s where developers come into play. That’s just speculation, however, based on rumors that can’t be verified at this time. What’s certain is that AR and VR are core technologies for Apple, and the company will likely launch AR and/or VR glasses of its own soon.