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What we know (so far) about Apple Glasses

9 min read
  • Apple's rumored augmented reality glasses project is on hold and may have been permanently shelved.
  • The glasses were expected to be an everyday wearable with built-in displays and gesture controls.
  • Technical difficulties have caused delays in development due to the challenge of creating lightweight hardware with enough power and battery life.
  • Apple plans to create an entire ecosystem around mixed reality, with extensive coordination across its business units.
  • The project involves coordinating software development, hardware optimization, and accessibility teams, as well as extending its server infrastructure to handle more video-based content.

There have been rumors for several years that Apple may launch a set of augmented reality "Apple Glasses" following its mixed reality AR/VR headset. The project is now on hold, and there is no word on when the product might be seen, and it is possible that it has been permanently shelved. The Apple Glasses are expected to be more of an everyday wearable product than the headset and will resemble traditional glasses, with lenses that have built-in displays that can be interacted with using gestures. Image credit: Popular Mechanics Leaker Jon Prosser claims that the glasses will look similar to Ray-Ban Wayfarers or the glasses that Tim Cook wears, while Bloomberg says a prototype developed by Apple resembles high-end sunglasses with thick frames that house the battery and chips. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggested that the glasses would be marketed as an iPhone accessory, serving as a connected display while offloading computing, networking, and positioning to the iPhone. Apple was said to be planning to sell the glasses for somewhere around $499, with prescription lenses available for an additional cost.

According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, Apple has postponed development on the Apple Glasses because of technical difficulties. Apple has not been able to develop the hardware required for a lightweight wearable with the power of an iPhone and enough battery life to run it. Work on the device has been scaled back, but has not been stopped entirely. Apple is said to see the Apple Glasses as a product that could one day replace the iPhone. Image credit: Yanko Design Apple's plans for mixed reality are extensive, and the reports claiming that it may have delayed introduction of its much-speculated-upon AR glasses are just the tip of the iceberg for an effort now reaching a crescendo of coordination across most of the company’s business units. Apple wants to build a platform, and we know it plans to introduce a platform for AR. Apple seeks not just to launch a product but an entire ecosystem. To accomplish this, it needs all its software development teams to coordinate their efforts.

In addition to ensuring the operating system used in the device itself is solid, Apple must also verify that its glasses work well with other devices and applications the company makes. Apple has been iterating and developing its own processors for years and has continued to improve its neural engine. Optical and imaging AI is an important component of what the company does, not just in terms of software and Metal, but also in terms of building on-chip hardware to cope with complex tasks. Image credit: AppleInsider Accessibility teams also have a part to play in the cross-company effort. Apple has been working away at elements of this iteration for many years. Apple's media teams seem busy setting the stage for the Next Big Thing. The need to use MDM management APIs to make these unreleased devices peer players in enterprise technology stacks (with fantastic collaborative features such as Freeform or Continuity) lends itself to video-based communication. Apple's servers already handle a lot of action, but any move to introduce more video-based content and communication for AR will mean those servers will have a lot more to handle. A report from Structure Research suggests Apple is already working to extend its server infrastructure, with plans to triple its data center power capacity.

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