Apple’s long-awaited AR glasses project has been delayed again, according to a new report. Due to what leaker analyst Mark Gurman describes as “technical challenges,” the goggles have been postponed indefinitely and are now officially on hold.
“Apple’s initial dream of offering lightweight AR glasses that people can wear all day now seems many years away,” Gurman writes pessimistically for Bloomberg, “if at all.”
To be clear, it’s worth noting that this is just one of many so-called Reality products that Apple has reportedly been working on. The first to be publicly announced will almost certainly be a heavier headset that combines both AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality), which is expected to get its own special launch event this spring. This will completely cover the eyes and pass-through cameras will be used to allow the user to “see” what is in front of them on high-quality screens, based on rumor.
Apple had previously planned to follow this headset, about a year later, with a lighter device designed to mimic the design of glasses, but this has now been shelved.
The problems this product faces are not unique to Apple, says Gurman. The concept of overlaying context-sensitive information and notifications on top of a real-world view is intended to help the glasses fit into everyday life, as opposed to the deeper immersion of a full headset. But previous attempts like Google Glass have failed.
Technically, the goggles are much more challenging than the headset due to their stricter weight, bulk, and aesthetic requirements, and their expectation of being used for extended periods of time. To achieve a battery life of even two hours (even much less than a smartphone), they require a bulky battery that may need to be shipped separately. There also remain unanswered questions related to processors, software and manufacturing, Gurman says, citing “people familiar with the deliberations.”
Apple’s budget headset
To overcome these hurdles, Apple has reportedly dropped the goggles project and now plans to follow the original headset with a cheaper but otherwise conceptually similar mixed-reality device instead. It will arrive in 2024 or early 2025, Gurman predicts.
The company will lower the price by using iPhone-grade components instead of the Mac chips expected to be in the original headset. While the first device will cost around $3,000, Gurman suspects Apple will target a price of around $1,500 for the “budget” edition to compete with Meta’s mixed-reality headset.
We even have possible names for the two devices. Trademark filings list the brand names “Reality Pro” and “Reality One”, which may be applied to the first and budget headset models, respectively.
The shuttering of the project once confidently dubbed Apple Glass will come as a disappointment to many, and Gurman says Apple still hopes to release AR glasses someday. But for now, it seems like a very distant possibility indeed.