Update: NextVR has replaced its website with a landing page announcing a ‘new direction’ without its existing service.
Update 2x: Apple has confirmed the acquisition to Bloomberg.
It’s no secret that Apple has ambitious plans for augmented reality and a future AR-focused headset. Apple is practically building the platform for its future headset out in the open with ARKit. What’s new is that Apple is believed to be in the process of acquiring a California-based virtual reality company called NextVR, 9to5Mac has learned.
IDC predicts AR and VR headset shipments will hit 100M by 2021 as Apple pushes ARKit, powerful iMacs
While Apple is getting serious with both AR and VR this year thanks to iOS 11 and more powerful Mac hardware, IDC has new data on the forecast for augmented and virtual reality mainstream adoption. IDC expects “dedicated AR and VR headsets collectively” to reach nearly 100 million units by 2021 compared to just under 10 million units last year.
Google has been making great efforts lately in bringing virtual reality to anyone with a smartphone, and the latest update to its YouTube app makes finding VR content super easy. YouTube for iOS now includes a dedicated Cardboard button, which automatically transforms any video into VR mode for watching with Google Cardboard.
In a blog post announcing their launch of an embeddable web and native app VR viewer, Google also introduced the official launch of their Cardboard SDK for iOS. The SDK allows iOS developers to embed virtual reality content within their own apps to then be viewed using a viewer like Google’s own Cardboard.
What role Apple should play in virtual reality has been debated for a while now, but one major VR company today had a few things to say about Apple as a whole. Speaking to ShackNews at the Microsoft Windows 10 Showcase in San Francisco, Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey was asked about the possibility of the Oculus platform ever supporting Mac OS X; his response was that it depends on if Apple ever “releases a good computer.”
Coca-Cola made packaging that converts into a free Google Cardboard-style VR viewer for iPhone [Video]
Coca-Cola could easily equip just about everyone in the country with a free Google Cardboard-style VR viewer if the above experiment turns into reality.
There’s no doubt that Apple has a definite interest in virtual reality. Tim Cook said on the most recent earnings call that “it’s really cool and has some interesting applications,” and he didn’t see it as a niche product. That’s as big a clue as Apple ever gives about its degree of interest in a product area.
Apple today has started selling the View-Master Virtual Reality Starter Pack on its online store. With all the news about the company building out and prototyping virtual reality tech, it’s interesting to see it offering a glimpse at what that future tech may be by selling the device on the online store. Harkening back to the classic ideals of the View-Masters from the past, the new View-Master allows users to go on exciting new adventures. Utilizing a mix of augmented reality and virtual reality, these adventures are now taken to a whole new level. Taking advantage of Experience Packs, users can navigate space, various destinations, and wildlife through a mix of AR and VR.
During this week’s earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook answered a question on virtual reality by saying “I don’t think VR is a niche…It’s really cool and has some interesting applications.” It looks like Cook’s statements have some background to them. According to a new Financial Times report, Apple had reportedly been prototyping VR headsets in the past under Steve Jobs in the mid-2000s, but the project was eventually abandoned once the technology was found to still be immature. With new acquisitions and a dedicated VR team, the effort is said to be once again a new focus.
Apple has long been rumored to have an interest in the virtual reality market, but the company itself has always remained quiet on the technology. That’s not an unusual strategy for Apple, though, as it often only makes very general, or even negative, comments about a technology until it is ready to announce its own foray into a market. During the company’s earnings call for the first quarter of 2016, however, CEO Tim Cook was asked about his opinions on virtual reality.
Speaking on the call, Cook said that he thinks virtual reality has some interesting applications and noted that he doesn’t think it is a niche market, a comment often used against the technology by its naysayers. “I don’t think VR is a niche,” Cook said. “It’s really cool and has some interesting applications.”
This begs the question as to what exactly Apple has planned for virtual reality. There are a variety of possibilities, some of which companies like Google have already capitalized on. As we’ve learned in the past, however, Apple has no problem with launching its own version of a technology later in the game. So, let’s talk about some of the potential places in which Apple could implement virtual and augmented reality technologies…
Speck today at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas has taken the wraps off of its foray into the virtual reality market. The popular accessory maker has unveiled the Pocket VR viewer, which features a collapsible design and is compatible with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s.
If you have an Apple TV, look out for the Littlstar app, which brings 360-degree videos to the platform for the first time. The company says that it has thousands of videos in its library, including ones from major brands like Discovery, Disney, Fusion, MLB, Mountain Dew, National Geographic, PBS and Red Bull.
You use the trackpad on the Siri remote to control your viewpoint. In a ballet video, for example, you can look around the theater as well as watch the performance, to get more of a sense of really being there …
Apple is about to go head-to-head with Google on smartwatches and also encroaching on Google’s territory with research into electric and possibly autonomous vehicles, but what about virtual reality? Today we get a look at yet another area in which Apple might compete with Google as the US Patent and Trademark office grants a patent to Apple for a Google Cardboard/Samsung-Oculus style VR headset for iPhone (via PatentlyApple).
Google and Mattel are holding a press event today to announce a new product that merges Google’s experimental Cardboard virtual reality platform with Mattel’s classic View-Master toy. Also announced at the event: Mattel plans to bring the new View-Master toy and with it Google’s Cardboard platform to the iPhone by the end of the year.
A few months ago, we visited Toronto-based Cordon Labs for some hands-on time with the work-in-progress Pinć VR headset case for the iPhone 6 and Android-based smartphones. Fast forward to CES 2015 and we’ve once again had a few minutes to check out a new and improved prototype of the headset, now 20% slimmer and closer to becoming an accessory that could actually be pocketable without protruding through your pants. Read ahead for my first impressions of the Pinć and a brief overview of where I think it is headed.
Update: Apple removed the job listings, but we have screenshots below.
Following our discovery that Apple was looking to hire app engineers to build virtual reality experiences, new job listings give us more insight into its interest in building VR gaming experiences and “cinematic user interfaces” for future Apple products.
Last week I met up with the people behind Pinć (Pinch), an under development VR headset that utilizes Minority Report-style user interfaces opposed to the mostly gaming experiences we’ve seen thus far from the competition. There are also a few other big differentiators for Pinc: it doubles as an iPhone case, uses hand gestures tracked by the iPhone’s camera for input, and includes a full SDK for developers built on Unity.