Google Glass promised a sci-fi style future where we’d never forget a person’s face or lose our way in a city. Unfortunately, it also ran into a host of privacy problems and was ultimately scrapped. Google has now moved onto VR, like most in the industry.
On the other hand, Microsoft believes AR is the way ahead. Microsoft’s new HoloLens project has shown the tech world where the future of augmented reality might lead, and Apple is making moves to catch up with its own AR product, that much, CEO Tim Cook has made clear.
But which of these products is Apple looking to re-invent? There have been reports earlier that Apple is eyeing a Google Glass like wearable. But privacy is one problem not even Apple can push with its fans. So it didn’t make much sense anyways. That’s not to say Apple isn’t working on any such device though. There are signs Cupertino is assembling an AR team, such as hiring an audio engineer from Microsoft’s HoloLens project.
Reports have also suggested though that the company may be close to a prototype stage as it is said to have ordered small quantities of near-eye displays from one supplier for testing. The company hasn’t, however, ordered components in numbers that would suggest that mass production plans are imminent.
Recently, Apple acquired patent for a wearable glasses and considering the push every major player is making in VR headsets, it was assumed that Apple was also going for a VR route with glasses. After all, these do give a headset kind of vibe. A quick look at the images below will tell you Apple is aiming for the best of both worlds here.
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman has now confirmed that Apple is developing Augmented Reality glasses though, and not a Virtual Reality headset like most others such as Google’s Daydream View or Samsung Gear VR. So this is closer to the Google Glass in design but more like Microsoft’s HoloLens right?
The glasses are believed to be powered by an iPhone – unlike HoloLens which is a compact full PC – which Gurman calls the “hub” of Apple’s ecosystem and is expected, if development is successful, to hit the market in the 2018 time frame.
So this is kind of like Google Glass meets HoloLens meets Samsung Gear VR.
The glasses are expected to compete with Microsoft’s HoloLens, which also offers an untethered augmented reality experience, rather than Google’s Daydream virtual reality headset, with Tim Cook recently saying “My own view is that augmented reality is the larger of the two, probably by far, because this gives the capability for both of us to sit and be very present talking to each other, but also have other things visually for both of us to see.”
Since Apple’s headset will be tethered to an iPhone, it will have significant cost advantage over Microsoft’s HoloLens but Microsoft has been in the game longer. By the time either HoloLens (or whatever it is Apple is onto) arrives in the market, Microsoft should have built out an ecosystem of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality OEMs based on its Windows Holographic platform, with a large number of headsets running the OS expected to ship by the end of 2017.
Apple has been desperately looking for that next big thing ever since the original iPhone. Their iPads are seeing more than two years of year on year sales declines and the Apple Watch never really caught on much like any other smartwatches. iPhone sales are on a decline as well. With the Apple Car rumoured to have been in intense development and then cancelled, it appears Apple’s ability to move the market and provide a serious threat to competitors is becoming less and less of an issue.
On the other hand, Microsoft has been trying hard and much of the industry if not all agrees that Microsoft is out innovating Apple.
So what do you think? Can Apple give Microsoft’s HoloLens a run for its money? Or will the HoloLens officially mark the shift in the status quo? Sound off in the comments below.