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New code in iOS 13 points to Apple’s ongoing work on a pair of AR-powered glasses

Published Sep 20th, 2019 10:30PM EDT
iOS 13
Image: Arcansel / Shutterstock

Over the past few years, one of the more intriguing rumors involving a new Apple product has centered on a pair of Augmented Reality glasses the company was supposedly working on. In addition to the usual speculation from the rumor mill, there was also concrete evidence that Apple was making a concerted effort to hire a large number of engineers with vast experience in various technologies related to augmented reality.

Amid rumors that a pair of AR glasses or headset was in the works, developers a few weeks back found a STARTester app in one of the latter iOS betas that includes a head-mounted mode designed to replicate the user experience of some sort of augmented reality hardware. Notably, the mode itself has two options, one called “worn” and the other called “held.”

With that said, and with iOS 13 now officially out in the wild, developer xSnow recently managed to gain access to the test mode for the STARTester app and posted a few videos of what he found. Incidentally, and perhaps not surprisingly, xSnow found that everything ran a lot smoother on an iPhone XS compared to 2017’s iPhone X.

Interestingly enough, it appears that previous rumors claiming that Apple had effectively ceased all R&D efforts into an AR headset of some sort were not true. What’s more, reputed analyst Ming-Chi Kuo this past March said that Apple might begin production on AR glasses as early as this year ahead of a 2020 launch. It’s worth noting that Kuo is easily the most accurate analyst when it comes to detailing new products in Apple’s pipeline. Specifically, Kuo writes that Apple’s AR glasses will be something of a lightweight accessory to the iPhone in the sense that the iPhone would do most of the heavy lifting while the AR glasses themselves would primarily focus on displaying pertinent information.

Apple has characteristically remained quiet on the matter, though Tim Cook nearly two years ago said that he views “AR as profound.”

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.