Apple Glasses rumor review: features, expectations, release date
Apple Glasses concept by Antonio De Rosa
Every now and then there is a product developed for so long and in such secrecy that it becomes a tech unicorn. A mythical creature discussed and fantasized about but never seen or touched. One of the best examples for that are the so-called Apple Glasses.
What makes this product a particularly hot topic for rumors and speculations is not only the fact that it’s an Apple product, but that it’s a product from a whole new category. And if there’s one thing Apple can do, it’s to disrupt whole industries with a single release. And Apple Glasses is what many expect to be the next big thing. Those are some big shoes to fill, so let’s summarize what we think we know about Apple Glasses.
One of the few things all rumors agree upon is that the Apple Glasses will make use of Augmented Reality. That’s the whole point of their future existence. AR is the technology that allows the overlay of information on top of the real world. Apple has been heavily invested in AR for its iPhones and iPads for a couple of years now, with dedicated apps and games that make use of it in a variety of ways. These devices use the feed from their cameras, combine it with the augmentations and display the finished product on the display.
The challenge with AR glasses comes from the need to have displays that are both transparent and able to show the content with enough contrast and clarity to make it useful. Transparent displays have been around for years, but for an Apple product that’s destined to carve its own path in the tech world, those are just not good enough. That’s why over the last few years Apple has acquired not only specialists in the field of AR but whole companies as well to make use of their intellectual property and expertise. Hopefully, combining that with Apple’s R&D budget will result in something that’s on a higher level.
So how exactly will these glasses work?
An iPhone companion
Through the phone, you’d be able to get a wide variety of content on your glasses. From obvious things like notifications, directions and news/weather updates to totally new experiences such as 360-degree video playback and virtual meeting rooms. For the last two, information from the device’s on-board sensors will be used to determine the position of your head in space to display the relevant imagery. Imagine sitting in an empty board room but when you look at the chairs you see people in them as if they’re right there with you. If Apple can pull something like that off, it will be truly a taste of the future.
Don’t expect to see any knobs or dials on the frames of the Apple Glasses (although that would be fun). Any controls you’d operate with your fingers will likely be touch-sensitive surfaces you can tap or swipe on. However, some rumors suggest that the glasses might come with a small handheld controller that will have buttons and perhaps a tiny joystick. Additionally, you’ll be able to use voice commands thanks to Siri just like you do with AirPods. Some speculations also include head gestures such as nodding and shaking. Will people be willing to randomly nod in the middle of the street is still up for debate.
Camera, no camera or something in between?
One issue people have with smart glasses of any sort is that if they have a camera you can never be sure if it’s recording or not. Obviously, that would be a serious concern for Apple as well, since it boasts privacy as one of the pillars of its business. Still, for AR to work, the glasses will have to pick up their surroundings somehow. That could be either through a regular camera or a time-of-flight camera. The second one can be more precise but usually has a limited range.
Either way, it’s likely that the Apple Glasses won’t have video recording capabilities.
One reason renders of the Apple Glasses look so different is that there might be more than one AR product in development.
An AR headset family
Apart from the glasses we described above, there are hints that Apple might bring out one or two more products from that segment. Some rumors suggest that there might be a full-on VR/AR headset for use at home as a competitor of the Oculus Quest or the HTC Vive. Apple has dipped its toes in the gaming scene with Apple Arcade, so a VR section that’s exclusive to its own VR headset is not a far reach. Backing up those suggestions are codenames for AR headsets found within Apple’s ARDisplayDevice framework which comes with Xcode, the company’s software development tool. There are two names for AR headsets: “Frank” and “Luck”, and another one for a HoloKit codenamed “Garta”. The HoloKit could be something meant to be used in a work environment for professionals that work with 3D such as civil engineers, architects, interior designers and, of course, game developers.
managed to run its test mode, StarTester, and simulate the left and right eye streams while in the test environment.
Apple Glasses release date
Currently, it seems unlikely that if there’s a variety of Apple AR headsets they’ll be released at the same time. According to Ming-Chi Kuo, a prominent Apple analyst that is rarely wrong when it comes to the company’s future plans, the first device of that type will be released during the second quarter of 2020. If true, that is surprisingly soon considering the magnitude of the release.
We’ll update this rumor review as soon as new information becomes available so keep an eye for it if you’re interested in Apple’s “next big thing”.