After recently renewed enthusiasm for Apple's long-awaited AR wearables – the subject of multiple reports and rumors over the past few years – part of that excitement can now be somewhat mitigated.
But this time around, the Apple smartglasses news comes from Apple & # 39; s own internal team, rather than analysts quoting unnamed sources.
In a meeting with more than 1,000 employees at the Steve Jobs Theater, Mike Rockwell, vice president of Apple responsible for VR and AR initiatives, revealed the product roadmap of the AR hardware team. Instead of 2020 or 2021, the director told his team that an unbound AR headset would launch in 2022 instead, according to a CNBC report stating The Information about the details of the meeting.
The first compelling computing headset would be followed in 2023 by AR smartglasses, currently code-named N421
Both products would display 3D content in the user's field of vision, similar to how ARKit works on iPhones and iPads nowadays.
The product roadmap confirms previous reports that Apple & # 39; s first AR wearable would be a hybrid VR / AR headset, currently being developed under the code name T288. More recent reports of code discovered in iOS 13 builds also refer to testing an AR headset.
Analyst reports and rumors about the timeline for the arrival of Apple AR wearables generally agree on 2020 as the horizon of the event, although analyst noted Gene Munster pushed the expected timeline back to December 2021 in a previous year published report.
More recently, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted that Apple's AR wearable would be announced in the first half of 2020, with shipping next year next year. The reports from Apple's internal meeting lack all the mentions of an iPad Pro with depth sensor on the back, which remains a realistic possibility, given that Samsung has begun to integrate similar components into its current generation of Galaxy handsets.
While recent reports, particularly attributed to Apple's leadership, will disappoint AR enthusiasts, the updated roadmap reflects the timelines for AR devices from other technological giants. The AR smartglasses from Facebook will not arrive until 2023, according to recent reports from while Snap CEO Evan Spiegel predicts that fully immersive AR smartglasses are still 10 years away from the regular application.
But do the AR industry, especially the component of startups that bank on consumer electronics makers to build and ship massive AR headsets, survive in time for the market to mature? With Magic Leap, the AR unicorn with around $ 2.4 billion in funding, with cracks in the financial basis, the answer to that question is as mysterious as ever.