Apple’s AR glasses have been rumoured for a number of years, but a flurry of rumours suggest we could see them released in the next few years.
The glasses are rumoured to be Apple’s second-gen AR product following the release of the more traditional AR/VR headset rumoured for release in 2023. Reports suggest Apple will use data gathered from the first-gen headset to further develop the full-blown AR glasses, which could be released in 2025 or 2026.
Jon Prosser, who rocketed to internet fame in 2020 with a flurry of semi-accurate iPhone predictions, took to YouTube to detail everything he knows about the high-end AR glasses.
In a video report, Prosser provides key details about what he claims will be called Apple Glass, including main features, design elements, pricing and release information – though a healthy dose of speculation should be applied as various elements of the video, including the 2020 announcement, were later found to be incorrect. Besides, we’re still years from release and a lot can change in development.
Combined with other recent rumours, we break down all you need to know about Apple’s second-gen high-end AR glasses, tentatively dubbed Apple Glass.
What to expect from Apple’s AR glasses
When it comes to AR glasses, there’s one product that comes to mind: Google Glass. But while Google’s option was a little too sci-fi for consumers and was subsequently canned, Prosser claims Apple’s option is meant to look like an everyday pair of glasses, and as such, can be used with your glasses prescription (if you have one).
That’s a stark change to the rumoured ski goggle-esque design of Apple’s first-gen AR/VR headset due for release next year.
While there’s not much detail about the dimensions of the glasses, Prosser claims to have seen a prototype with a plastic body, though he’s confident that the material will change before public release.
Crucially, the Apple Glass won’t have that weird glass block featured on Google Glass, according to Prosser. Like the futuristic movies from the 90s predicted, Apple’s AR glasses will feature displays within both lenses. These displays are apparently only visible to the wearer, meaning those around you can’t snoop on incoming messages when talking to you.
According to Japanese publication Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, it’s Sony that has been tasked with supplying Apple with OLED microdisplays for the upcoming AR glasses. Per FRAMOS, a supplier of embedded vision technologies, Sony’s OLED microdisplays are small but mighty, offering ultra-fast response rates, a wide colour gamut and low reflectance, making them ideal for use in AR glasses.
Importantly, Prosser claims there’s no onboard camera like Google Glass, which became the focus of privacy issues within days of the Explorer Edition being launched, and will instead use a LiDAR sensor like that of the latest iPhone and iPad Pro ranges to sense the world around it.
It’s a high-tech bit of kit that can accurately detect depth by bouncing light at a subject and recording the amount of time it takes for the light to return, and is similar to the tech used in prototype self-driving cars. We explain what LiDAR is and what it does on the iPhone separately for those interested.
Per Prosser’s report, Apple’s Glass team is using all the data generated by iPad Pro LiDAR scanners to improve the AR experience and should broaden now the Pro iPhone models also have the tech.
Along with the ability to properly place digital artefacts in the real world, it’s likely the LiDAR will also be used to detect front-facing gestures for input, along with touch gesture input on the glasses.
The only downside to the Glass displays, at the current stage of prototyping, is that they can’t work with tinted glasses, meaning you might not be able to get a pair of Apple SunGlasses at launch.
The glasses aren’t big or techy, so how are they powered? Prosser has said that it’ll feature a built-in battery (charged via a wireless charger, not when folded but extended and placed upside down) but when it comes to powering the Glass’s Starboard UI, it’ll all be done via your iPhone.
That’s not a huge surprise, given the same thing happened with the first-gen Apple Watch, and it’s likely that this will change with subsequent versions of Apple Glass over the years. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves here!
That’s backed up by a Bloomberg report claiming that the upcoming AR glasses will run “rOS”, or Reality Operating System, based on Apple’s iOS system for iPhones, and also suggests that the iPhone will do most of the legwork despite allegedly featuring an Apple Watch-esque SoC.
How much will Apple’s AR glasses cost?
The ability to power the AR glasses via iPhone means Apple can keep the price down – way down, in fact. It’s easy to assume that futuristic tech like this will cost upwards of £1000/$1000, especially in a world where high-spec iPhones and iPads sell for the same prices as a MacBook Pro, but Prosser claims it’ll be surprisingly affordable at just $499 (likely £499 in the UK).
That’s for the ‘base’ model, suggesting there might be more expensive variants – possibly with different materials, like the Apple Watch range – but it’s unknown whether there will be differences in features like the iPhone range.
Regardless, that’s an incredibly low price that’ll allow Apple to strengthen its position as one of the biggest providers of AR content on the market.
The App Store is already full of AR content that’d arguably suit a pair of glasses more than an iPhone or iPad, and by the time the Apple Glass specs come along, it’ll have a bevvy of AR content designed for the first-gen AR/VR headset ready to go.
When will Apple’s AR glasses be released?
Of course, the biggest question revolves around release: when are we likely to see the AR glasses officially revealed? Prosser claimed that Apple was keen to initially introduce the Apple Glass as a “One More Thing” announcement alongside the iPhone 12 in October 2020, but as we now know, that didn’t happen.
That release date always did seem wildly ambitious – especially considering we’ve yet to see Apple’s first-gen AR/VR headset, which is widely regarded as the precursor to Apple’s full-blown AR glasses.
In fact, recent rumours suggest the first-gen AR/VR headset has been delayed until 2023 amidst production and overheating issues, so it should come as no surprise that the Apple Glass wasn’t a surprise ‘One More Thing’ at any of Apple’s 2022 events.
Bloomberg sources suggest the glasses were in the very early stages of development in 2021 and have been described as being “several years away” despite Apple’s initial plan to release the AR glasses as soon as 2023.
A report from iDropNews suggests that the AR glasses have an internal release target of 2026, but this could slip further depending on development.
That’s a timeframe backed up by Haitong International Tech Research analyst Jeff Pu, who claims that the AR glasses have been “postponed to 2025-2026, due to design issues”.
A launch in 2025 or 2026 seems way more likely, though that means we’re still quite some time away from fully-fledged Apple AR glasses. But hey, at least we’ve got the AR/VR headset to look forward to in the meantime right?
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