The iPhone changed the smartphone industry forever, effectively killing every company that could not pivot. The world’s biggest phone brands at the time like Nokia, Palm, Microsoft, and RIM/BlackBerry all had to throw in the towel. Only Google was quick enough to adapt Android from a BlackBerry alternative to an iPhone rival, and some of the smartphone vendors who went for it thrived. Samsung and Huawei are both Android success stories, as is OnePlus. But none of them, least of all Google, could come up with a real “iPhone killer,” a device that would revolutionize the mobile industry again.
It turns out that Apple may be working on a device that could end up spelling the end of the iPhone as we know it in the future, and the first-gen device might be released as soon as 2020.
Apple is expected to deliver a bunch of new products next year, with the iPhone expected to receive the most important product refresh since the 2017 iPhone X. Aside from a redesign and 5G connectivity, the iPhone 12 should receive a beefier processor and a rear-facing 3D camera that would improve augmented reality (AR) apps, Bloomberg explains.
Apple needs better AR apps not only for iOS devices but also for a product that could make even better use of the technology — Apple AR glasses. The first-gen model could launch as soon as next year, with holographic displays placed inside the lenses. The glasses will sync with the iPhone, displaying texts, emails, maps, and even games over the user’s field of vision for a mixed reality experience. They could also come with their own version of the App Store, like the Apple TV or Apple Watch, the report notes.
This is where things get interesting. Apple is reportedly hiring experts in graphics and game development to turn the AR glasses in a new product category, “and, if all goes perfectly, an eventual successor to the iPhone.”
It’s not far-fetched to imagine that technology breakthroughs could allow Apple to turn the glasses into an iPhone-like device that would be able to do pretty much everything the iPhone does. The problem so far is that Apple supposedly hasn’t come up with any applications that will make the glasses a must-buy. That means it’ll take a while for this product to develop into a standalone device that doesn’t need to be tethered to the iPhone. Moreover, the product’s launch could be pushed back if executives decide Apple needs more time.
Bloomberg notes that other tech companies are also working on AR glasses of their own. Facebook is making Snap Spectacles-like devices that can take pictures and route calls. Amazon has Alexa Frames glasses in testing, alongside the Echo Loop ring to control them.
Other reports have also indicated that Apple’s first-gen AR glasses may debut as soon as 2020, with developers having discovered a new AR glasses icon in an internal iOS version.