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Comment: iPhone-powered Apple Glasses seems to me the ideal approach

Yesterday saw a new Kuo report which said that Apple plans to release its first AR device at some point this year. While it didn’t go into any detail, the analyst has previously suggested we can expect to see iPhone-powered Apple Glasses, at least for the first-generation of the company’s move into augmented reality.

Although there are pros and cons to having the iPhone do the heavy lifting, overall I think it’s an approach that makes sense …

The report of the glasses being simply an external display device goes back to 2019.

Kuo says that Apple’s first-generation of AR glasses will be heavily dependent on the iPhone. The analyst says that the AR glasses will essentially act as a display only with the actual computing, rendering, internet connectivity and location services coming from the iPhone in the user’s pocket. It is assumed that the pairing will work wirelessly like Apple Watch, but the report does not state that explicitly.

Yesterday’s report added nothing in terms of what to expect, saying only that some kind of Apple AR device will be launched during 2021.

We can think of the two AR approaches as being equivalent to virtual reality headsets today. The Oculus Rift relies on a computer for the processing, while the headset is just a display with sensors and input devices. In contrast, the Oculus Quest is a standalone VR device that does all of the processing itself. The Quest effectively has a built-in Android phone.

Taking the former approach – but using an iPhone rather than a PC – has three big advantages.

First, cost. It’s significantly cheaper to make a device that doesn’t need its own computing power. That should make Apple Glasses more affordable than they would otherwise be.

Second, weight. Eliminating the ‘computer’ from the headset enables the glasses to be lighter, and therefore more comfortable to wear for extended periods of time.

Third, longevity. You can buy a single pair of glasses, and keep them through several generations of iPhone, reaping the benefits of improved performance each year.

It will be interesting to see how Apple pitches the first generation glasses. A report in 2019 claimed that Apple’s long-term plan for this type of device to replace smartphones ‘in roughly a decade.’ Personally, I’m unconvinced.

Are we really going to be in a position where every single person who now owns an iPhone is going to wear glasses? And if we’re not going to wear them all the time, does reaching into our pocket for a pair of Apple Glasses make more sense than reaching for our phone?

I explained then the reasons I would probably buy a pair, but as a replacement for my Apple Watch, rather than my iPhone.

What’s your view? Do you agree it makes sense to have iPhone-powered Apple Glasses, or would you rather see a standalone device? Please let us know in the comments.

Render: iDrop News

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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