Apple AR VR headset

A sketchy report today says that the rumored Apple headset with combined AR-VR capabilities has fallen behind schedule. The report says supply-chain partners expected the device to move into a second phase of prototype testing last quarter, but this didn’t happen.

However, it’s unclear that much weight should be given to the claim …

The paywalled Digitimes report refers to the device as “AR glasses.”

Apple did not start P2 prototype testing for its AR glasses as expected by its supply chain partners in first-quarter 2021, which means it is unlikely for the device to begin volume production in first-quarter 2022, according to industry sources.

This is somewhat ambiguous, as Apple is believed to be working on two separate – and very different – products in this field.

The first is a combined virtual reality/augmented reality headset, similar to Microsoft’s HoloLens 2. This is essentially a VR headset with external cameras to give it AR capabilities also.

The second is a pure AR device, with a form factor much closer to traditional glasses. This is the device that has been dubbed Apple Glasses, and will reportedly only work as a companion device to the iPhone in much the same way as the first generations of the Apple Watch.

Earlier reports suggest that the VR/AR headset will launch sometime this year, with Apple Glasses still some years away yet. Thus it would appear that Digitimes means the headset, but is referring to it as AR glasses. Given this confusion, it doesn’t appear that the site is particularly well informed.

For what it’s worth, however, launch tends to follow some time behind volume production, so that the company can build up stock ready for sale. Entering volume production in Q1 next year might have seen a launch late in that quarter or early in Q2. The report implies that we would now be looking at late Q2 launch.

The most reliable source to have commented on potential timings for Apple’s headset and glasses plans is Ming-Chi Kuo. He said last month that we can expect Apple’s VR/AR headset sometime next year, while Apple Glasses won’t make it to market until 2025.

Looking further ahead, Kuo believes Apple is aiming to eventually offer contact lenses with AR capabilities, but doesn’t see this happening until after 2030.

Render: Antonio De Rosa

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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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