Editorial: Apple is not cancelling its AR Glasses

Posted:
in General Discussion
It makes for a great headline, but it doesn't look like Apple has abandoned its development of AR glasses if for no other reason that because it has not cancelled its augmented reality work.

Apple Park AR
Is this really how Apple thinks we'll all use AR? Holding up an iPad to take a photo is bad enough.


It's a measure of how much interest there is in this, though, that a headline behind the Digitimes paywall that claims Apple is cancelling its AR Glasses, has been getting a huge amount of attention.

However, it's a measure of how reliable Digitimes has been before that no one has bothered to pay to read the full story.

That does include us. It should also include you. Nothing to see there, move along, and it would cost you $415 to subscribe to find out today.

Nonetheless, the clickbait headline is strong, albeit oddly worded. "Apple reportedly having terminated AR glasses development," it says.

And this is an idea that is getting more traction than it should. That's partly because of the level of interest we all have in Apple's augmented reality development and it's partly because it is being argued that this would be Apple's second big hardware cancellation after AirPower.

It's mostly, though, because of the timing.

Jony Ive announces he's leaving Apple, and a moment later, one of its big design projects is reported to be cancelled. Just as everyone is talking about Ive and thinking about the future of design at Apple, here's a whopper of a story about it. But, we choose the word 'whopper' carefully.

Ive may have just announced his departure, but it's not as if he decided over orange juice that morning and sent a resignation memoji to Tim Cook before clearing out his desk.

Whether you believe the Wall Street Journal account of his departure or not, his leaving has unquestionably be in progress for some time. Then whether AirPower was really cancelled quite quickly or not, Apple's AR Glasses are different.

The AR Glasses are a long term project, and they are part of the entire AR drive that Apple has been more open than nearly everything else it has ever worked on. They're not some standalone product like an iPod sock, they are an integral part of whatever AR ecosystem Apple is working on.

We don't really know all that much more about Apple's overall AR plans than we do about its Project Titan car, but it certainly seems as if we do.

Demo of AR at WWDC 2019
Demo of AR at WWDC 2019


For Tim Cook talks up AR">Tim Cook talks up AR whenever he can. Patents keep getting filed and filed, too. Apple hires people to work on it. And ARKit keeps getting remarkable updates that we and developers are actually seeing.

We're also seeing the application of AR in unexpected areas such as the Facetime Attention Correction.

So AR is happening, and it's happening now.

There is no question that Apple is pursuing AR and that it isn't giving up on it. There's also no question but that it will involve hardware beyond the iPhone. Apple makes hardware. And then it makes the software that runs on it.

No doubt, future iPhones and iPads will include more AR features, but there's got to be a limit to that. There's got to be a physical limit to how much use we can get out of AR if we have to hold a slab of glass up in the air all the time.

Those slabs could do the processing work, leaving the glasses to be lighter and less obtrusive than Google's previous plans.

Whatever way Apple does this, AR is coming and AR Glasses are coming with it.

It's true, though, that Apple always iterates its way toward a design. The design group famously likes to make physical objects instead of relying solely on CAD/CAM drawings. The design group's own section of Apple Park includes milling machines that are better than some factories own.

And there's no Apple hardware product you can name that wasn't preceded by many test designs that got thrown away.

Detail from an Apple patent regarding headsets
Detail from an Apple patent regarding headsets


If you tell us that one design of AR Glasses just got cancelled, we'd believe you, and we wouldn't even shrug. But, if you tell us that it's all over, that there is no more development on AR Glasses, well, that's harder to swallow. Maybe Apple has dropped development because it's finished. Maybe Apple has dropped one particular form of the glasses.

Or maybe someone at Apple who has a pair of AR glasses has just dropped them and that's all this is about.

Don't point to AirPower as an example of Apple ditching hardware, either. That is genuinely different because Apple had demoed that publicly, it had even produced the packaging for it, and we had seen it work, albeit in a controlled demo.

The AirPower was a true last-minute cancellation. And, it was a product that DigiTimes claimed was in mass production and was imminently shipping a week and a half before Apple dropped the axe.

Apple has demoed no AR glasses, it has produced no materials, it has released nothing about them at all. We don't know if Apple will do AR glasses well, but we know they're doing them.



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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    Apple should definitely develop AR glasses. And create a resignation emoji.
    rare commentroundaboutnowcornchipspace2001jahbladeavon b7
  • Reply 2 of 19
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,028member
    ...augmented reality development and it's partly because it is being argued that this would be Apple's second big hardware cancellation after AirPower.

    Umm... Did I miss something. It’s one thing to announce a product and then cancel it... it’s an entirely different situation to cancel a product that was never announced. And correct if I’m wrong... Hasn’t Apple said time and time again that they’ve cancelled TONS of products while in development?
    AppleExposedtmayStrangeDaysmattinozcornchipjahbladeuraharajony0
  • Reply 3 of 19
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,788member
    mjtomlin said:
    ...augmented reality development and it's partly because it is being argued that this would be Apple's second big hardware cancellation after AirPower.

    Umm... Did I miss something. It’s one thing to announce a product and then cancel it... it’s an entirely different situation to cancel a product that was never announced. And correct if I’m wrong... Hasn’t Apple said time and time again that they’ve cancelled TONS of products while in development?

    Good job; you've already proved yourself a better pundit than 99% of the hacks out there. Wasn't hard was it?
    edited July 11 jahbladewatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 4 of 19
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,788member

    Is this really how Apple thinks we'll all use AR?

    That's exactly how I used AR to pick out furniture for my office, and watch an animated story on Japanese Internment in Canada during WWII
    watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 5 of 19
    “However, it's a measure of how reliable Digitimeshas been before that no one has bothered to pay to read the full story.

    That does include us. It should also include you. Nothing to see there, move along, and it would cost you $415 to subscribe to find out today. “

    The same could be said for how AppleInsidet writes about Apple’s car project. From all the patents being filed/awarded and how stimulating Cook talks about the car bring the Mother of AI projects, one can see that Apple is designing and most likely building a car. But since it is more easy to write about how Apple is in disaster mode than to write that Apple is moving forward with a car, we get to read your regurgitated disaster stories. 

    At least this time AppleInsider called out the nonsense. Thank you!

  • Reply 6 of 19
    seanismorrisseanismorris Posts: 1,110member
    AR glasses are incredibly difficult... everyone’s eyes are different.  There’s also huge variations in head size... and device weight is a issue.

    It’s not so much AR is difficult, but it’s creating a one-size-fits-all device.  What’s really needed is custom AR glasses for each person, otherwise it will be a headache...literally. You see the sole insert machines...one of those x1000.

    It will happen, but maybe not for another decade. 

    I don’t think Apple is abandoning AR glasses, but there are many advances that need to be made first.  We’ll probably see Apple buy a bunch of failed startups first, like with “self” driving cars.  Consumers shouldn’t get excited yet.
    Hyperealitymacplusplusradarthekatmattinoz
  • Reply 7 of 19



    Demo of AR at WWDC 2019

    Or maybe someone at Apple who has a pair of AR glasses has just dropped them and that's all this is about.

    ^^this should be the caption for the above picture.
  • Reply 8 of 19
    Thanks. Been waiting for this article. The comments on Macrumors about the digitimes claims have been infuriating me all day. Serves me right for clicking on other sites, but still....
    cornchip
  • Reply 9 of 19
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 8,811member
    Is this really how Apple thinks we'll all use AR?
    For the time being, yes. Forever, no. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 19
    qwweraqwwera Posts: 280member
    Naw,,
    it’s all true. 
    The whole AR glasses thing was silly.
  • Reply 11 of 19
    I love the "development of unannounced product is cancelled" stories. As if Apple are just trying one idea and suddenly said "welp! no, too hard" and threw it all in the garbage.

    If any truth is to be taken from these reports, it could be that one of any number of concepts has been altered. Glasses themselves might not be the approach, as if we're limited for options to display things in front of eyes.
    mattinoz
  • Reply 12 of 19
    LordeHawkLordeHawk Posts: 168member
    AR glasses are incredibly difficult... everyone’s eyes are different.  There’s also huge variations in head size... and device weight is a issue.

    It’s not so much AR is difficult, but it’s creating a one-size-fits-all device.  What’s really needed is custom AR glasses for each person, otherwise it will be a headache...literally. You see the sole insert machines...one of those x1000.

    It will happen, but maybe not for another decade. 

    I don’t think Apple is abandoning AR glasses, but there are many advances that need to be made first.  We’ll probably see Apple buy a bunch of failed startups first, like with “self” driving cars.  Consumers shouldn’t get excited yet.
    Actually, AR glasses are extremely difficult because they require layers of complex systems that take time to research/develop.
    Glasses have been around a long time, I think Apple can handle this.  They miraculously build watches that fit almost everyone’s different wrist size and shape.  Truly a miracle and sorry for the sarcasm, TGIF.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 19
    sphericspheric Posts: 1,799member
    Apple not cancelling unannounced product. 

    hurrah. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 19
    palegolaspalegolas Posts: 1,289member
    Perhaps the first really useful holographic AR application could be the wind screen of a car?
    Still looking forward to the head mounted AR solution ;-)
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 19
    FolioFolio Posts: 652member
    "Nonetheless, the clickbait headline is strong, albeit oddly worded. "Apple reportedly having terminated AR glasses development," it says.".......Maybe so. But maybe that's only earliest one of perhaps a dozen variants. I could see Apple passing on early models of interest mainly to the military and defense contractors.
  • Reply 16 of 19
    cornchipcornchip Posts: 1,424member
    doctwelve said:
    Thanks. Been waiting for this article. The comments on Macrumors about the digitimes claims have been infuriating me all day. Serves me right for clicking on other sites, but still....
    Not sure why you'd put yourself through that, but good to know things haven't changed over there. I should really log in to MR so I can delete my account.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 19
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,521member
    The AR revolution won’t be happening if the boss of   is not a product guy. 
    Two things: Tim has said that AR (and presumably glasses) will be a bigger product line than iPhones — he can think like a product guy.

    Second, the idea that a single personality is a driver of success for a gigantic entity like the mature Apple is an oversimplification. Even Jobs needed product guys like Ive and the crew he eventually built out, and certainly Jobs needed Cook to run the logistics of the business.


    edited July 12 cornchipuraharawatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 19
    So not coming in 2020 as widely reported? Got a new date in mind? Still sounds a lot like they were canceled to me which is a huge disappointment. What is left to get really excited about in new Apple products even rumored to be released in the next year or two?
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