There’s been a fair amount of speculation about Apple and augmented-reality glasses, thanks to a series of patents and Apple hiring a good number of AR engineers in the Valley in the past few years. There were rumors of Apple Glasses, stylish enough to wear in public (think Warby Parker or Ray-Bans, but with, you know, tech junk in them). They’d be functional enough to give you godlike powers — answering emails while staring at what’s-his-face from marketing during a meeting, showing you exactly how to find the perfect sushi spot in the Valley, and then detailing exactly what to order.
It now seems clear that Apple’s has plans for augmented reality — in which digital objects are overlaid and interact with real-world objects, as opposed to virtual reality, where users don a helmet and enter a wholly digital universe. It just that those plans will remain on the phone and iPad — and not in wearable headsets.
In an interview with The Independent, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the tech simply wasn’t there yet, and Apple wouldn’t do anything until the tech was ready. “[T]he technology itself doesn’t exist to do that in a quality way. The display technology required, as well as putting enough stuff around your face — there’s huge challenges with that. The field of view, the quality of the display itself, it’s not there yet.” And, says Cook, Apple isn’t going to do something unless the company feels it can ship it “in a quality way.”
So, despite some very odd and kinda cyberpunkish patents, Apple will be staying out of the AR glasses game for the time being.
That said, Cook is very bullish on AR as a whole — just not in glasses. “Think back to 2008, when the App Store went live,” he tells The Independent, talking about AR in iOS. “There was the initial round of apps and people looked at them and said, ‘This is not anything, mobile apps are not going to take off.’ And then step by step things start to move. And it is sort of a curve, it was just exponential — and now you couldn’t imagine your life without apps. Your health is on one app, your financials, your shopping, your news, your entertainment — it’s everything. AR is like that. It will be that dramatic.”