Tim Bajarin: Apple’s augmented reality smart glasses are still a few years out

“One of the things Apple does well is to use a platform approach to anything it brings to market. MacOS and iOS are platforms for hardware, software, and services; tvOS and watchOS are platforms in their own right,” Tim Bajarin writes for PC Magazine. “By doing this, Apple can riff on these platforms and innovate at the hardware, OS, and services level.”

“We are about to witness one of Apple’s most interesting riffs soon in the form of augmented reality; iOS 11 brings a whole new and exciting way to merge our physical world with our digital world,” Bajarin writes. “What is important about this initial foray into AR is that Apple is using dedicated hardware in the form of the iPhone and iPad to deliver its first generation of AR solutions. At the moment, a smartphone or tablet is the best way to deliver AR and the apps being developed will have a real augmented reality focus.”

“But if you follow this market, you know there is another way being proposed to deliver AR: mixed reality,” Bajarin writes. “I believe the smartphone and tablet will be the dominant AR delivery platform for at least another three to four years or even longer. However, I do believe Apple has designs in the works around some type of AR or mixed reality glasses and that these represent the company’s natural evolution of its mobile iOS UI…”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote last November, “Imagine what could be done with AirPods coupled with a pair of Apple Specs. The sky’s the limit!”

VR, I think, has some interesting applications, but I don’t think it’s a broad-based technology like AR. Augmented reality will take some time to get right, but I do think that it’s profound. We might… have a more productive conversation, if both of us have an AR experience standing here, right? And so I think that things like these are better when they’re incorporated without becoming a barrier to our talking… You want the technology to amplify it, not to be a barrier.Apple CEO Tim Cook, October 13, 2016

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Gene Munster: Expect Apple smart glasses in mid-2020 – June 27, 2017
UBS: Apple may eventually launch ‘iGlass’ smart glasses – June 20, 2017
Analysts: Apple’s Corning investment hints at AR glasses and wireless charging tech – May 14, 2017
Apple awards Corning $200 million in first Advanced Manufacturing Fund investment – May 12, 2017
Leaked document details Apple employee eye injuries, hints at Apple AR glasses – April 20, 2017
Apple began working on augmented reality glasses more than a year ago, sources say – March 27, 2017
How Apple might deliver Augmented Reality on the iPhone – March 1, 2017
Apple CEO Cook sparks predictions of augmented reality in iPhone 8 – February 27, 2017
Apple CEO Cook offers clues to Apple’s Augmented Reality strategy – February 14, 2017
Apple CEO Cook on Augmented Reality: ‘I regard it as a big idea like the smartphone’ – February 10, 2017
Apple working to integrate Augmented Reality capabilities into iPhone’s Camera app – November 17, 2016
Apple granted another Augmented Reality head-mounted display patent – November 10, 2016
Ming-Chi Kuo: Apple will have a 3-5 year lead in augmented reality; use as part of an autonomous driving system – November 2, 2016
Apple CEO Tim Cook: ‘We are high on Augmented Reality for the long run’ – October 14, 2016
iPhone 7 Plus is the starting point of Apple’s major push into augmented reality – September 28, 2016
iPhone 7 Plus proves Apple is gearing up for augmented reality – September 27, 2016
What iPhone 7 says about Apple’s future augmented reality plans – September 19, 2016
Apple needs to forget chasing Snapchat and go after the Augmented Reality industry – August 25, 2016
Tim Cook publicly confirms Apple has augmented reality plans – July 27, 2016
Apple acquires Flyby Media; assembles large team of virtual and augmented reality experts – January 29, 2016
Apple hires leading virtual reality researcher – January 22, 2016
Apple is building a virtual reality supply chain with disruptive potential, new research shows – November 19, 2015
Analyst: Apple team exploring virtual reality/augmented reality – August 31, 2015
Apple exploring a new reality with purchase of Metaio – June 3, 2015
Apple patents perforated augmented reality display that you can see and hear through – May 29, 2015
Apple acquires augmented reality company Metaio – May 28, 2015
New Apple haptics patent application reveals diamond-layered trackpad that simulates wood, other textures – April 23, 2015
Apple granted U.S. patent for hybrid VR head-mounted display – February 18, 2015
Apple is working on VR user interfaces and gaming; looking for Oculus and Leap experts – February 10, 2015
Apple granted patent for display-based speakers for iOS devices – January 13, 2015
Apple granted a patent for devices with a transparent display – November 18, 2014
Apple’s new iPhones, iPads could feature haptic displays – June 30, 2014
Apple patent application reveals personal display headset invention – May 8, 2014
Apple patent application reveals wildly intelligent multi-tiered haptics system – May 3, 2012
Apple continues to tweak Apple TV video headset accessory – April 10, 2014
Apple patent application reveals sapphire flexible transparent display devices created with Liquidmetal – December 19, 2013
Apple granted knockout patent for head-mounted personal display – December 10, 2013
iGlasses: Apple granted patent for head-mounted augmented reality displays – July 5, 2012


  1. Nobody has given any reason why any Apple Glasses would be fundamentally better than Google’s were. I just think that the functionality would have to be far more compelling than anybody could currently offer to make them anything more than a curiosity. If AR becomes a massive thing on phones then perhaps people will start to want to have them on permanently, but are people going to want to walk around all the time with some standardised apple glasses on their face if they don’t already wear glasses, and if they do are they going to want to give up the massive choice of styles of glasses they have for what is likely to be one model of apple glasses (albeit with some variable options)? Apple might come up with something great, but for it to be light and unobtrusive whilst also not being technological crippled it’s going to be very, very expensive. It’s not going to the next iPhone that some analysts seem to think it will be.

    Personally I think AR has masses of potential on the iPhone where developers and users can find out what can be done with it, what’s useful and what’s a gimmick. The Apple Watch is at a minimum still a decent watch, if the functions of Apple glasses aren’t massively useful it’s just going to be glasses you either don’t need or that aren’t what you would perhaps choose to wear.

    1. Googles were fundamentally dumb in this regard it was neither particularly capable nor were there compelling software to exploit the concept. However 5 years is a long time in tech and in about 2 or 3 years from now it just might start to show some real potential. As they say being first looks good but generally doesn’t get the technology to where it needs to be unless others are incompetent in building on it.

      Certainly what Google produced was simply not a feasible proposition in reality being far too ugly and obvious under-powered and limited in use which equals uncool. Time will tell if others, including Apple will solve these problems but Apple with its chip advantages are best placed to do so but it wont be anytime soon i suspect though gradually the goggles many now use for gaming will condition us, especially younger people to accept the concept over time.

    2. Google glass failed because it was clunky, ugly, creepy and had limited applications. Apple will engineer something that looks cool and has a developer base. The creepy factor is a more complicated issue. There are instances when it is fine to take out your phone and start shooting video (when you are outdoors, at sporting events, etc and other times when its not: i.e. during normal conversation with a person sitting 3 feet away, in a bathroom, doctors office, etc. Google went straight to creepy. The low hanging fruit will be apple “sport” glasses- outdoor/driving sunglasses with useful functions. I could imagine a personal “reading version” for home/ family use. The office/public indoor version will have to address the creepy factor before being widely accepted.

      1. That’s my point, I just don’t think the tech is there to fold anything into a pair of glasses that isn’t clunky, creepy, and limited in functionality. For it to be genuinely good it’s going to be real high end, way more than a top of the range iPhone is and that’s before you get into prescriptions etc. Apple struggle to get real processing power in a watch (which admittedly has a battery sapping screen), but anything glasses related is going to likely to need to offload processing and other functions to a phone, so it’s going to be an accessory. An expensive one.

        I wear glasses and have a couple of pairs, to get a pair of smart glasses I’m going to have to spend a fortune or sacrifice in terms of my look. There’s a reason there isn’t just one style of glasses. Once you add in the fact that genuine AR is in such infancy I just don’t think the world is ready.

        Airpods are great, but they’re not exactly rivalling the iPhone for sales and they’re a fraction the price of what decent glasses would need to be.

        That’s not to say Apple couldn’t do something, but it’s going to be niche, almost an exercise in seeing what can be done. It’s not going to be something to have a substantial impact on their bottom line in the way so called analysts seem to think it will.

      2. Google glass failed because…

        The Marketing POV:

        Why Google Glass Failed: A Marketing Lesson

        • No real product launch.
        • No mainstream advertising campaign.
        • No clear explanation about why the product was fabulous.
        • No easy way to buy it.

        The Technology POV:

        How & Why Google Glass Failed

        • It was a prototype being foisted as a finished product.
        • It didn’t offer anything offer anything that average people really wanted, let alone needed, in their everyday lives.
        • Two to three-hour battery life.
        • “No one could understand why you’d want to have that thing on your face, in the way of normal social interaction.”
        • High cost to the point of being perceived as elitist.
        • Creepy hazards when wearing them.
        • They didn’t do any single action especially well.
        • No cultural cool factor, more of an UN-cool ‘glass-hole’ factor.

        And reportedly their CPU ran so hot as to be unbearable to wear.

  2. I thought Apple was a secretive company, so how do these outsiders know what Apple will have ready in a certain period of time. It’s like everything Apple does seems to be known by a relatively large number of people who have no real connection to Apple.

    I don’t see why Apple is unable to close these leaks as I figure the leaks would be easy to track down. It’s really sad if key Apple employees are simply handing out this information for cash.

    I see no reason why Apple’s version of augmented reality hardware (glasses) would be as far out as Bajarin is saying it is when the technology is already available today.

  3. Bottom line is anyone who wore Google Glass or any sort of hi-tech glasses looks like a dweeb and that will stop most of the market cold. Most people don’t want to enhance their appearance as dweebs, nerds and geeks. End of story. It might take 10-20 years to get over this stigma, if ever, regardless of the benefits.

      1. FACT: In the field even hipsters shrank from glassholes. FACT: Fashionistas are rare birds that flock together to admire one another, and tend to ignore the hoi polloi.

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