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Apple of my eye: Apple to release AR headset in 2020

Image via Apple
Image via Apple
According to a Bloomberg report, Apple is planning on releasing its rumored AR glasses sometime in 2020. The glasses, while still in development, may eventually become a replacement product of the iPhone. However, a lot of work remains to be done, including the development of a "killer application."

Next year is shaping up to be an interesting one. Plans for foldables are unfolding, 5G networks are blossoming, and dumb devices are becoming smarter. Oh, and Apple may be releasing augmented reality, or AR, glasses in 2020.

According to Mark Gurman at Bloomberg, 2020 will be the year of AR. That push will be spearheaded by Apple, who may be eyeing next year for the release of an AR headset. In typical Apple fashion, the rumored glasses won’t present anything we haven’t seen before; rather, the AR spectacles will be refinements of ideas presented years ago in Google’s Glass wearable. The Apple AR headset would display notifications (e.g., emails, texts, messages, navigation) pushed from a synchronized iPhone.  Apple may have bigger ambitions for the ocular wearable than a simple connected device, though. The eye wear may eventually serve as a full replacement for the iPhone.

That rumor is pretty wild speculation at this point, as the glasses themselves have yet to be confirmed. However, considering other tech giants like Amazon and Facebook are hard at work on their own AR headsets, it’s not far fetched to think Apple would be developing a new product line for a currently-untapped market.

It would take an Apple effort to push AR into the mainstream. Like the company or not, Apple is still a market leader. Who killed off the eternal headphone jack? Apple. Who introduced the obtrusive notch that plagues flagship phones? Apple.

Throughout recent memory, this has been Apple’s play. Another company will invent a new product category (like Microsoft did with the tablet PC in the early aughts). Apple will wait for that product to fail in the consumer space, take the idea, and refine it into something easier to market, like the iPad. It seems that Apple will do the same with AR headsets.

Google Glass is perhaps the most well-known AR headset. Released in 2013, Glass was largely relegated to developers, enterprise professionals, and enthusiasts. The general populace generally ignored Glass because of its prohibitive price and lack of a “killer app.” After Glass’s uneventful release (and subsequent crash), AR was largely ignored save for games like Pokemon Go.

However, Apple has been leaning heavily into AR development. Augmented Reality has appeared on stage in some capacity at almost every major Apple event for the past two years. If Apple can conjure the same magic with AR that it did with smartphones and tablets, AR could be a huge field ripe for harvest. Apple has a lot of work to do, but it’s proven itself capable of climbing a mountain this large in the past. Of course, this is the same company that botched a laptop keyboard design for three successive generations.

Do you think Apple will dive into wearable AR? Would you buy a pair of Apple glasses? Leave a comment and let us know.


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Sam Medley, 2019-10-21 (Update: 2019-10-21)