Apple’s first augmented reality headset could launch in 2022 at the earliest, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
Such a headset could lay the foundation for a sleeker pair of smart glasses that could one day replace the iPhone, Apple managers have reportedly said according to The Information.
The headset that may launch in 2022 would reportedly offer a mix of AR and virtual reality experiences and would be designed for gaming, entertainment, and communication, Bloomberg has reported.
The launch would come as Apple has been under pressure to prove it can launch a product that’s as revolutionary as the iPhone.
The first iteration of Apple’s long-rumored augmented reality headset could arrive in 2022 at the earliest, marking the company’s next major hardware expansion beyond the iPhone, according to a note from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reported by MacRumors.
Kuo, an analyst with TF International Securities who has been accurate about Apple products in the past, predicts that 2022 is the earliest launch timeframe for Apple’s first headset. That lines up with a report from The Information published in November, which suggested that the company would launch a headset similar to the Oculus Quest in 2022.
Such a headset is believed to be the first step toward a thinner, sleeker pair of smart glasses that could replace the iPhone in roughly a decade, Apple managers have reportedly said according to The Information.
Apple did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
Apple’s headset is expected to offer a combination of AR and VR experiences, according to reports from Bloomberg and The Information. This device is expected to be positioned as a tool for gaming, entertainment, and communication, reports Bloomberg, and it will include cameras that allow people to interact with their surroundings, according to The Information.
Apple has been under pressure to deliver a product that’s as revolutionary as the iPhone. In recent years, the company’s Apple Watch and AirPods have seen success, making the company the most popular wearables device maker in the world according to estimates from the International Data Corporation.
There’s no shortage of virtual reality headsets available in the market today — from Facebook’s Oculus lineup to the PlayStation VR and HTC Vive. Microsoft also sells a mixed reality headset targeted at businesses and enterprise use cases called the HoloLens, which combines elements of virtual reality and augmented reality.
But those devices remain useful only as peripherals. In some cases, they’re designed to work along with your smartphone — or provide an experience that’s entirely separate or different from the one that your phone offers. Current headsets aren’t designed to replace the functionality of your smartphone.
Although today’s roster of virtual and augmented reality eyewear largely remain niche devices, Cristiano Amon, president of mobile chip giant Qualcomm, previously said he believes that the proliferation of 5G will lead to the development of new tech gadgets like smart glasses.
That’s largely because 5G will be able to provide the low-latency, high-speed connections that would be necessary for enabling lightweight devices like smart glasses to quickly offload complex computing demands to the cloud.
Amon believes that early versions of smart glasses could arrive in 2021, he said when speaking with Business Insider last November. Amon was speaking to the industry in general, and did not mention which specific companies could be working on devices like this.
“This is not just aspirational, there are people work on it,” Amon said. “I’ve seen some incredible prototyping.”
Although Apple never discusses future products before its ready to unveil them, Apple CEO Tim Cook has voiced his interest in augmented reality on numerous occasions.
Apple currently offers tools for developers to create high-quality AR apps for iPhones and iPads called ARKit. It also added a Lidar scanner to its newest iPad Pro, a sensor that calculates distance by measuring how long it takes for light to reach and object and reflect back. This scanner gives the iPad Pro a better understanding of its surroundings to enable better performance when running AR apps.
“This is the reason I’m so excited about it,” Cook said when referring to AR on the company’s fiscal first-quarter earnings call in January. “You rarely have a new technology where business and consumer both see it as key to them. So I think the answer is that’s the reason that I think it’s going to pervade your life.”
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