Apple Glass is coming, with famed leaker Jon Prosser saying that, pending how Covid plays out, they may launch as soon as the last quarter of this year. The wearable devices won’t, however, be available for purchase until the last part of 2021.
The leak, if accurate, reinforces my own belief that Apple isn’t after the ‘augmented reality’ market, but instead wants to disrupt the market for, well, glasses.
The prototype he’s seen supports my conclusion that Apple Glass will provide a very light-weight sort of augmented reality. Forget 3D. Forget something like the Hololens. Forget cameras in your frames.
Instead, think of something light-weight and stylish and priced to be an attractive pair of prescription frames.
Apple Builds a Cloud
Apple is building an army of developers for augmented reality through ARKit and, for the Web, AR Quick Look. These prototypes and experiments generate both improved code and experience, and data.
Prosser says that all of that LiDAR data that is being collected by the new iPads (and soon from your iPhones) is being consumed by Apple to generate models that will be useful in supporting the LiDAR detectors on Apple Glass.
Today’s work on AR is tomorrow’s source data for Apple Glass.
It might not be an AR Cloud but it approaches a cloud of data.
Apple Glass and Web XR
Prosser says that one of the main use cases for Apple Glass will be – QR Codes? The comment should be taken in conjunction with reports that iOS 14 has support for Gobi (is that REALLY pronounced “Go Buy?”).
The Verge reports that this new AR experience will use colourful QR codes to trigger WebXR-type experiences:
Apple’s upcoming iOS 14 could have a new augmented reality app that can read Apple-branded QR codes and might have new features baked into the Find My app, according iOS 14 files obtained by former TechCrunch reporter Josh Constine.
That new AR app, called Gobi in these files, could be able to read both more traditional-looking QR codes and an interesting new circular design for QR codes, reports Constine.
Taken together, the Gobi app for iOS 14 may just be a precursor to that same content being delivered to your new Apple Glass.
All of these bits and pieces, taken together, support the idea that Apple Glass will be a supplemental device to your phone: a lot like Apple Watch. Prescription-ready, they’re looking to disrupt the eye glass segment much as they disrupted watches.
Don’t expect rich, immersive 3D augmented reality, at least not with the first version, Microsoft Hololens won’t have competition from Apple, at least not in the short term.
But Apple is hoping to do one better: to get its glasses onto as many faces as possible. At least for those who need glasses, or are one of the 1B people who own iPhones.
Over time, the devices will improve, become richer, work with your Apple TV or iPad. But for now, they’ll mark yet another fashionable addition to the Apple product line with functionality being built upon over time, and a ton of data being collected to make it happen.