Wayne Ma, Alex Heath, and Nick Wingfield, reporting for the subscriber-only The Information:
Mike Rockwell, who heads the team responsible for Apple’s AR and
virtual reality initiatives, led the meeting, which included new
details about the design and features of the AR headset, these
people said. The product timetables run counter to recent analyst
and media reports that said an Apple AR device could arrive as
early as next year.
Pretty sure the only source for that is Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman. 2020 never seemed realistic to me.
The group presentation was attended by enough employees to fill
the 1,000-seat Steve Jobs Theater at Apple headquarters,
suggesting Apple has a sizable team working on AR projects.
This is an extraordinary leak. Either Apple very rarely holds internal events like this about future products, or, when they do, nothing leaks about them.
Apple’s headset, code-named N301, will offer a hybrid of AR and VR
capabilities, according to people familiar with the device. It
resembles the Oculus Quest, a Facebook virtual reality headset
released earlier this year, but with a sleeker design, these
people said. Cameras will be mounted on the outside of the device,
allowing people to see and interact with their physical
surroundings, they said. Apple wants to make heavy use of fabrics
and lightweight materials to ensure the device is comfortable to
wear for extended periods of time, executives said in the
presentation in October.
Something even remotely like an Oculus Quest doesn’t seem like an Apple product. But who knows.
In contrast, Apple’s AR glasses, code-named N421, present bigger
technical challenges than the headset and are further from
release. They are meant to be worn all day, and current prototypes
look like high-priced sunglasses with thick frames that house the
battery and chips, according to a person who has seen them.
Additionally, Apple has explored the use of lenses for the glasses
that darken when people are using AR on them, a way of letting
others know the wearer of the glasses is distracted, said another
person involved with the project.
That window-shade feature sounds dystopic.
And why would people who don’t need glasses want to wear thick glasses all day? And they think it will replace phones in a decade? Do we really want our phone display in front of our eyes all day? I just don’t get it.
People familiar with the October meeting said it was unusual for
Apple, one of the most secretive companies in Silicon Valley, to
brief so many employees at once about product roadmaps.
To say the least.