A new report pushes the rumored launch date of Apple’s AR device by two years; hints at a second, sleeker device. 

This past October, TF International Securities analyst and veteran Apple researcher Ming-Chi Kuo released research indicating that Apple would be launching its long-rumored AR headset during the second quarter of 2020 and would be partnering third-party eyeglass brands, hinting at a modular design. 

However, according to insider-knowledge obtained by The Information, a discussion lead by Apple VP Mike Rockwell during an internal group presentation conducted last month at Apple Park in Cupertino, CA suggests that the mysterious device in question will launch closer to 2022. Not only that, but the AR headset will be followed by the release of AR glasses the following year, establishing Apple’s official augmented reality ecosystem in the process. 

Concept design for AR glasses / Image Credit: Taeyeon Kim

As reported by The Information, the AR headset — supposedly codenamed “N301” — will feature a design similar to that of the Oculus Quest standalone VR headset, albeit slightly smaller and lighter. This report also claims the 2022 headset will be a combination VR/AR device designed specifically for gaming, virtual meetings, and video watching. Another supposed feature will be “Dark Lenses,” which signifies to others that AR mode is active and you’re no longer paying attention.

This will then be followed by the release of a sleeker, more streamlined pair of glasses designed specifically for AR content. According to the report, Apple will begin reaching out to AR developers around 2021. Mark Gurman of Bloomberg, a veteran reporter of technology news, confirms the rumored 2021-2022 release window. 

“Apple had originally intended to have the technology for its initial headset ready in 2019 for a release in 2020, but recently decided to push that back, the person added. The Information earlier reported that Apple told employees it is aiming to launch its first headset by 2022 and the glasses a year later.”

Image Credit: Apple

Though this nearly two-year delay may come as a disappointment meant to some, the fact that Apple is taking its time with the development of its proprietary AR technology is an excellent sign of the companies long-term commitment to immersive hardware. During the internal meeting, which was reported to have included roughly 1,000 employees, one Apple manager suggested that AR glasses could replace iPhones within the decade.

This past September a handful of eagle-eyed developers discovered specific bits of code hidden within the latest iOS 13 update pointing towards the existence of an AR headset. Since then rumors regarding a dedicated AR headset have continued to swirl.

With Facebook having already confirmed the development of their own AR glasses this past September during Oculus Connect 6, AR is shaping up to be the next big technology for these major corporations. No doubt the eventual roll-out of 5G technology will play an additional role in the switch from smartphones to headsets.

Feature Image Credit: Apple

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