Apple's headset drastically changed over time & top execs are skeptical

Posted:
in General Discussion edited May 2023
Despite the divergence of the upcoming Apple AR headset from the company's original vision, and skepticism from executives, Tim Cook himself is actively pushing the project forward.

Render of Apple headset
Render of Apple headset


Anticipated to make its debut at WWDC in June, the Apple VR and AR headset is poised to capture significant attention. While much speculation has revolved around its hardware capabilities, it appears that its array of features and functions could be equally extensive.

A new report from Bloomberg on Thursday shares details gleaned from conversations with pepole involved in the headset's development. According to the sources, Apple embarked on the project with a firm belief in the significance of mixed reality but had concerns about potential social isolation caused by such devices.

Initially, the company focused on developing lightweight augmented-reality glasses, but due to technological limitations, the objective gradually shifted towards a product resembling existing devices. This shift was also influenced by the desire to bring a product to market and internal disagreements about the project.

Apple aims for a future where customers can wear the device throughout the day, effectively replacing various daily activities typically carried out on an iPhone or a Mac. These tasks include gaming, web browsing, emailing, engaging in FaceTime video calls, collaborating within applications, exercising, and even practicing meditation.

The company acknowledges that the headset may not have an immediate transformative impact like the iPhone. However, internal projections suggest that with the addition of features and subsequent versions that offer reduced prices, the headset has the potential to reach a level of success similar to that of the iPad or the Apple Watch.

That could contribute over $25 billion annually to the company's revenue. Apple is aware that achieving this level of success will require time.

Initially, the company had hoped to sell around 3 million units per year, but those estimates have been revised to approximately 900,000 units. In comparison, Apple sells over 200 million iPhones annually.

Although the company once considered selling the headset at a loss to get it into the hands of as many people as possible, it may end up selling it at cost.

Tim Cook's vision

Since the beginning, Cook had wanted headset to be the "Apple Glasses," a lightweight, unobtrusive device for augmented reality. However, the company has had to change the design and make it more bulky due to technical limitations.

"Nobody in here -- few people in here -- think it's acceptable to be tethered to a computer walking in here and sitting down," he told a group of students at a 2016 technology conference in Utah. "Few people are going to view that it's acceptable to be enclosed in something, because we're all social people at heart."

According to individuals who have collaborated with him, Cook, despite having firm opinions, was not extensively involved in the detailed design of the headset. This approach contrasts notably with Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who was known for his distinctive design sensibilities onto Apple products.

"The closest Cook gets to product development is a demo," says one of the people. "But even then, he's not the type of guy who says it should do X and not Y. He's the complete opposite of Steve in terms of having strong opinions on the minutiae."

But sources said that other prominent figures in Apple's upper management, including Craig Federighi, the senior vice president for software engineering, have also maintained a certain level of detachment and expressed caution regarding the headset. For example, Johny Srouji, Apple's senior vice president for hardware technologies, has privately expressed skepticism, compared the project to a science experiment.

According to people involved in the project, Apple is at least four years away froom releasing lightweight AR glasses, if it releases such a product at all. Engineers face technical challenges that involve shrinking components while maintaining processor power and reasonable battery capacity.

For now, rumors say the headset that Apple may announce in 2023 resembles a pair of ski goggles and requires a separate battery pack.

To maintain a connection with the real world, the headset includes an outward-facing display that showcases users' eye movements and facial expressions. Apple considers this feature crucial in distinguishing it from enclosed VR headsets.

According to a source familiar with the device, the external screens enable people to interact with the wearer without perceiving them as robotic or detached. But it will be a start, and Apple will continuing iterating and improving the headset.

Read on AppleInsider
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 29
    Don’t believe it. Designed to lower expectations while the product blows people away. As initially a largely a developer tool, a sale at near cost is reasonable. The lower cost versions will make up for it.
    edited May 2023 jas999secondkox2applebynaturewatto_cobraMadbum
  • Reply 2 of 29
    nubusnubus Posts: 383member
    Don’t believe it. Designed to lower expectations while the product blows people away. As initially a largely a developer tool, a sale at near cost is reasonable. The lower cost versions will make up for it.
    You don't blow away people with an anti-social $3000 device requiring a battery belt.
    9secondkox2williamlondongrandact73Arszyelijahgmacplusplus
  • Reply 3 of 29
    larryjwlarryjw Posts: 1,031member
    until it is at least announced it's best not to have an opinion. Same with Project Titan. Rumors are just that -- rumors.
    dewmejas999secondkox2lordjohnwhorfinbaconstangwatto_cobraDooofus
  • Reply 4 of 29
    StanWStanW Posts: 9member
    It's not a device IMHO that is very appealing to the majority of the Apple family. If true that the AR Headset is designed as ski googles, although I do snow ski, I would not wear the AR Headset walking around.. I guess it has a niche in the Apple ecosystem...

    9secondkox2williamlondonArszywatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 29
    Nobody wants a bulky headset, not even from Apple.
    williamlondongrandact739secondkox2Arszymacplusplus
  • Reply 6 of 29
    nubus said:
    Don’t believe it. Designed to lower expectations while the product blows people away. As initially a largely a developer tool, a sale at near cost is reasonable. The lower cost versions will make up for it.
    You don't blow away people with an anti-social $3000 device requiring a battery belt.
    And no one will by an expensive mobile phone without a keyboard.
    9secondkox2williamlondonlordjohnwhorfinbaconstanghydrogenapplebynaturewatto_cobraslprescottbageljoey
  • Reply 7 of 29
    nubus said:
    Don’t believe it. Designed to lower expectations while the product blows people away. As initially a largely a developer tool, a sale at near cost is reasonable. The lower cost versions will make up for it.
    You don't blow away people with an anti-social $3000 device requiring a battery belt.
    And no one will by an expensive mobile phone without a keyboard.
    You meant “physical keyboard” and the analogy is extremely poor.
    9secondkox2Japheynapoleon_phoneapartwilliamlondongrandact73ArszyelijahgdesignrSpitbath
  • Reply 8 of 29
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 3,572member
    I just tried my first VR headset 4 days ago. I see some potential for it, but I wasn't overwhelmed. I think Apple could help itself (and us) by stressing that they will respect user privacy, but if there's an xrOS app store, I doubt that any third party apps will respect our privacy. So Apple better be offering some compelling software at launch so that I'm not forced to download an app from Google or FaceBook or Communist China, which offer similar degrees of respect for my privacy.

    In the article it said that the device would be good for making FaceTime calls. On the surface, that's impossible, since the device wouldn't have a camera pointing at your whole face, and even if you used an external camera, your eyes would probably be blocked by the device, making a FaceTime call useless. However I can see how Apple could use software to "remove" the Apple Glasses from your face. And I can also see how the device could have a flip-out arm (with a camera or a mirror) to take a video of your entire face, which could allow FaceTime calls to work (using software to skew your face into a normal view.)

    But if this idea works, the first thing I'll do is buy stock in a company that makes contact lenses, as their sales could rocket overnight.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contact_lens#Manufacturing <--
  • Reply 9 of 29
    ToortogToortog Posts: 56member
    I still remember back in the 80's seeing an Apple internal video for a sales meeting as a joke they had a person showing Apple Glasses.   The glasses were thick beige plastic like a Mac,  no lenses just flat plastic across the front with a rainbow Apple logo in the corner of the glasses.    Then the person turns their head to the side and you see a small slot.   Then the person is holding a tiny floppy disk that he then inserts into the slot on the glasses.   The audience was laughing their asses off seeing Apple glasses with a tiny disk slot.   


  • Reply 10 of 29
    9secondkox29secondkox2 Posts: 2,716member
    When the iPhone dropped, it was a massive hit - for OBVIOUS reasons. It had everything common sense people craved but didn’t have: 

    1) a huge, multitouch screen (none of that stylus enabled pressure sensitive crap). 

    2) an actual robust OS. people had been getting by with ridiculously limited and ugly operating systems that were glitchy as can be. 

    3) REAL WEB BROWSING. One of the frustrations with smart devices was the total crap internet experience. The “mobile web” was basically what you see when your internet connection can’t load a full web page. Some jumbled text links, barely readable text body, and maybe some tiny jpegs or gifs. This was the real deal. You go the actual internet. 

    4) an iPod in your phone. 

    5) fantastic innovations such as visual voicemail and an email experience reminiscent of your Mac. 

    In short, the iPhone made sense. It always had. It was just that no one had done it before. And the iPhone was rumored for a VERY long time and there was pent up demand for an actual smartphone that didn’t feel so ridiculously limiting. 

    The headset is nothing like that. No one has been anticipating this. No one had been asking for it. And it doesn’t solve anything. 

    If the headset is an actual headset or even resembles one, it won’t be a big deal. 

    If the user has to “wear” the power supply, it won’t be s big deal. 

    If it costs a lot, it won’t be a big deal. 

    It’s a niche. A “golly gee that’s neat” type of thing. Not a staple of modern life.  

    The original concept was XR GLASSES. Let that sink in. Someone, somewhere at Apple has a great idea. Then it got pooped on by people with no vision and no courage to take up the challenge of making an impossible thing possible. Steve Jobs MADE people do this kind of thing. Is that no longer in Apple’s DNA? Has it been bred out? That would suck. Apple can make glasses, even if they have to INVENT components that never existed before or redefine what a battery is. 

    The headset is the fallback “let’s settle for this” idea that somehow gets usher when the actual great idea gets poopoo’d. In other words, it is an idea that should be dead for the time being until Apple is able to build the actual great thing. This kind of product where it’s “almost like the other thing” or “good enough” is best left to Dell, HP, etc. the R&D got this far because of the glasses. The headset piggybacked on that and never would have even gotten off the ground if not for the glasses. 

    Apple’s brand is that of carefully crafted success. Saying “no” a thousand times before a “yes” is given in order to weed out mediocrity and to pursue focus. Sure, there are rare misses, such as Apple TV+, but it SHOULD be rare. That should be a learning point for Apple. They were 75% committed to the fight and got smacked around. Now, they are content to get by with what they have. Not even making threats to be the #1 streaming service, having been beaten into submission by Amazon, Disney, and Netflix, generating about 1-2 billion per year compared to say 32 billion for Netflix and 7.5 billion for Disney (Amazon is more difficult to extrapolate since so much is tied to Prime, but estimated to tie Netflix at 32 billion). Unfortunately, It’s not even close. As of this quarter, Apple TV Plus has STOPPED growing, having seen zero subscriber growth. After four years! That’s sad. 

    With the headset, Apple MAY take over the headset market, but what does that even mean? A market that never went anywhere after tons of development and marketing and is basically a money pit. 

    There are certain playgrounds that fit such a successful company as Apple, but scuba gear with screens isn’t one of them. Phones, streaming, EVs, make sense. XR glasses? If done as glasses that you use like glasses? Makes sense. A thing you strap on your head and wear its power supply somewhere else on your body? Heck no. 

    And this idea of selling an expensive toy at first in order to justify building something actually great later? Heck no! That’s not Apple! Apple doesn’t use its customers as R&D subjects! We’re not paying big money to be a focus group that WE should be getting paid for. This whole thing just stinks. Hopefully the idea of it being an actual headset is false. A lot of this smells like intentional leaks as it is. 

    So hopefully the actual product is glasses that you wear like a pair of sunglasses or such and has novel power built into the frame - if they are ready to launch it at all. 
    Arszyelijahggatorguymacplusplus
  • Reply 11 of 29
    twolf2919twolf2919 Posts: 110member

    ...
    The headset is nothing like that. No one has been anticipating this. No one had been asking for it. And it doesn’t solve anything. 

    If the headset is an actual headset or even resembles one, it won’t be a big deal. 

    If the user has to “wear” the power supply, it won’t be s big deal. 

    If it costs a lot, it won’t be a big deal. 

    It’s a niche. A “golly gee that’s neat” type of thing. Not a staple of modern life.  

    The original concept was XR GLASSES. Let that sink in. Someone, somewhere at Apple has a great idea. Then it got pooped on by people with no vision and no courage to take up the challenge of making an impossible thing possible. Steve Jobs MADE people do this kind of thing. Is that no longer in Apple’s DNA? Has it been bred out? That would suck. Apple can make glasses, even if they have to INVENT components that never existed before or redefine what a battery is. 

    ...
    So hopefully the actual product is glasses that you wear like a pair of sunglasses or such and has novel power built into the frame - if they are ready to launch it at all. 

    Agree with everything you wrote.  The sad thing is that I can't think of the "technical hurdles" that supposedly is keeping Apple from bringing out AR glasses!  Sure, if the approach is to have these AR glasses be a totally independent product from the iPhone, you basically have to shrink down an iPhone into the size of light-weight glasses and that's pretty impossible.  But if the AR glasses are a companion product to iPhone, all those miniaturization and battery hurdles fall by the wayside - the glasses then simply need enough processing and battery power to drive the sensors/cameras that feed the iPhone (which is in your pocket anyway) what the user 'sees'.  The iPhone then does the heavy lifting cpu-/memory-wise to create the augmentation that is then sent back to the glasses for display.  Since the glasses just display stuff, collect sensor data, and transmit/receive wireless data from the iPhone, it should easily be possible to create lightweight glasses whose battery lasts all day.

    A primitive version of this was developed over 10 years ago: Google Glass.  Aside from 10 years worth of additional miniaturization, Apple AR glasses wouldn't  have to repeat some of the mistakes Google Glass did - e.g. still trying to do too much on-board.

    I currently own an Apple Watch Ultra - that's $800 for a companion product.  I'd gladly pay $800 for Apple AR glasses that put little name bubbles above people's heads (I'm terrible with names), showed me the latest notifications from the phone, and navigated my walks through unknown city streets without me having to look down on my phone or watch.  Everything else is gravy.   But they have to appear to be regular, stylish glasses that have to be wearable all waking hours without leaving a permanent imprint on the bridge of your nose.
    edited May 2023 Arszywilliamlondonwatto_cobraroundaboutnow
  • Reply 12 of 29
    danoxdanox Posts: 2,856member
    Heard it all before for everything Apple has done in the last 25 years, we shall wait and we shall see, the only thing I can say is, buy more shares, long, Apple…….
    applebynaturewatto_cobraSpitbath
  • Reply 13 of 29
    jellybellyjellybelly Posts: 111member
    Think of it as a hobby for Apple in the short term similar to the Apple TV box. 
    Sometimes Apple has to have an evolving product in the market.  

    The key will be content and how it’s shown—and that’s where Apple will excel. Not just entertaining content, but massive real world content.  They may be able to improve Street View information overlays and a better 3D experience, starting with just a couple of cities and building on that. 

    Crowd sourcing content might also contribute to an expanding hardware and content ecosystem. You might be able to contribute environment data using the device’s onboard cameras and GPS and other sensors adding in machine learning, combining multiple user’s data to create an ever increasing detailed view of the world around us. 

    I expect the first year to be mostly developer sales with a high price tag or subscription that is partially returnable upon exchange of unit for version two. This will be a slowly gaining set of assets that will accelerate in the second and third year. 

    It will still have some wow factor on release. In addition to developers, well heeled Apple enthusiasts will also afford the risk of version one. 

    Another thought is leasing or subscription of the devices, and getting credit against the lease or towards early payoff by credit points scored in a game of collecting the real world data.  That would be gaming motivation and financial motivation.

    There’s also great curiosity in why so many iPad Apps are easily adaptable or already ok to use on the device. What’s that about?????

    I can’t wait to see the introduction but I will wait.  It’s only weeks away. 
    williamlondonwatto_cobra9secondkox2
  • Reply 14 of 29
    I don’t believe any of these “reports” — they all use the words “purportedly”, “apparently”, “allegedly” — all made up with things that can never be verified.  Think about the price — an article years ago puts out a price of $3000 for the product, and now you have idiots posting as if this were actually the price when it hasn’t even been announced yet.  I can guarantee you that most employees of Apple don’t even know what the price will be.  And now this article is saying that Craig Federighi is distancing himself from the product — he is the SVP of software engineering — does anyone actually believe this trash?  This is either misdirection or idiocy on a massive scale. 
    williamlondonapplebynaturewatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 29
    alandailalandail Posts: 755member
    nubus said:
    Don’t believe it. Designed to lower expectations while the product blows people away. As initially a largely a developer tool, a sale at near cost is reasonable. The lower cost versions will make up for it.
    You don't blow away people with an anti-social $3000 device requiring a battery belt.
    VR can be social.

    You can play ping pong with people all over the world.

    You can play mini golf with family, both in the same room, or while you are in a different states.

    williamlondonapplebynaturewatto_cobra9secondkox2
  • Reply 16 of 29
    alandailalandail Posts: 755member
    I just tried my first VR headset 4 days ago. I see some potential for it, but I wasn't overwhelmed. I think Apple could help itself (and us) by stressing that they will respect user privacy, but if there's an xrOS app store, I doubt that any third party apps will respect our privacy. So Apple better be offering some compelling software at launch so that I'm not forced to download an app from Google or FaceBook or Communist China, which offer similar degrees of respect for my privacy.

    In the article it said that the device would be good for making FaceTime calls. On the surface, that's impossible, since the device wouldn't have a camera pointing at your whole face, and even if you used an external camera, your eyes would probably be blocked by the device, making a FaceTime call useless. However I can see how Apple could use software to "remove" the Apple Glasses from your face. And I can also see how the device could have a flip-out arm (with a camera or a mirror) to take a video of your entire face, which could allow FaceTime calls to work (using software to skew your face into a normal view.)

    But if this idea works, the first thing I'll do is buy stock in a company that makes contact lenses, as their sales could rocket overnight.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contact_lens#Manufacturing <--
    Apple may have a different solution for that which doesn't require contacts or wearing your glasses. There are rumors of prescription VR lenses.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 29
    hexclockhexclock Posts: 1,253member

    And this idea of selling an expensive toy at first in order to justify building something actually great later? Heck no! That’s not Apple! Apple doesn’t use its customers as R&D subjects! We’re not paying big money to be a focus group that WE should be getting paid for. This whole thing just stinks. Hopefully the idea of it being an actual headset is false. A lot of this smells like intentional leaks as it is. 

    So hopefully the actual product is glasses that you wear like a pair of sunglasses or such and has novel power built into the frame - if they are ready to launch it at all. 
    Apple Test Subject #1


    williamlondon9secondkox2
  • Reply 18 of 29
    alandailalandail Posts: 755member
    designr said:
    nubus said:
    Don’t believe it. Designed to lower expectations while the product blows people away. As initially a largely a developer tool, a sale at near cost is reasonable. The lower cost versions will make up for it.
    You don't blow away people with an anti-social $3000 device requiring a battery belt.
    And no one will by an expensive mobile phone without a keyboard.
    This is an interesting (and commonly used) form of logic among Apple-o-philes (which I kind of am myself to be honest). It goes like this:

    1. Apple comes out with (or is rumored to be developing) a product with certain attributes (and pricing).
    2. Some people raise legitimate questions, concerns, and even doubts about its potential long-term (or even short-term) success (or the scale of its success).
    3. Someone then points to a previous product (e.g., iPhone, iPad) that had detractors (usually industry pundits) but succeeded anyway. Therefore...
    4. Anytime Apple comes out with (or is rumored to be developing) a product and people are questioning it, it must be the same situation.
    Examples: TV+, Car, this rumored VR/AR/XR product, etc.

    But this is flawed reasoning.

    First, because products like iPad and iPhone are both reasonable extensions and evolutions of previous product category technologies that Apple executed (technologically and marketing-wise) much better than previous competitors.

    Second, these products clearly play off of Apple's core-competency (the beautiful and seamless marriage of digital hardware and software). This isn't necessarily true with something like a car and certainly not with a media streaming service (e.g., TV+).

    Third, just because Apple "outsmarted" or "outguessed" the pundits and critics before does not mean they can or will again. Using the same form of logic one could easily predict that every future product Apple launches will be an abject failure because they have launched products (often to much fanfare and excitement) that have later failed.

    Granted, Apple has been and likely will continue to be a tough company to bet against. This doesn't mean their success is always a forgone conclusion. For example, I'm still bearish on TV+ long-term. I'm also skeptical about an Car due to the level of complexity (relative to something like iPhones, iPads and Watches) of designing, building, distributing, selling, and servicing cars. While a car might be closer to Apple's core-competency (e.g., the beautiful and seamless marriage of hardware and software), it carries and order of magnitude more complexity than they have experience with.

    The better approach here is to try and apply logic and reasoning centered around the product (rumored or real) itself and what that looks like in the current real-world of technology, competitors, culture, and society (yes, products live in a societal and cultural context). So, for the rumored AR/VR/XR product one of the big questions I have had is what problem this is solving and for how many people. I've yet to hear a compelling case for a use cases that would likely serve millions or tens of millions of people. I can certainly see niche use cases. But I, personally, don't realistic envision tens of millions of people strapping a product like this to their face for hours every day. A watch? Sure. Kind of a no brainer. Phone? Yep. Table? Yes. NOTE: Even a car I can see, I just question Apple's play in that world.
    Absolutely can be true of cars - See Tesla.

    And why isn't XR an extension of Apple's core competencies. They have the chip team, they've had much of the software in iOS for years.

    Fitness is a compelling use case. I've used VR for fitness for 5 years and the entire time I wished Apple would do it right. Heart rate monitor and pulse ox data in the Apple Watch should be synced up with the workout.

    If resolution is as good as rumored, and passthrough is as good as rumored, home IMAX quality movie theater is another potentially compelling case.

    And AI is potentially a huge part of it too. I keep hearing rumors Apple is sitting on breakthrough AI.

    We find out in a couple of weeks.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 29
    9secondkox29secondkox2 Posts: 2,716member
    I just tried my first VR headset 4 days ago. I see some potential for it, but I wasn't overwhelmed. I think Apple could help itself (and us) by stressing that they will respect user privacy, but if there's an xrOS app store, I doubt that any third party apps will respect our privacy. So Apple better be offering some compelling software at launch so that I'm not forced to download an app from Google or FaceBook or Communist China, which offer similar degrees of respect for my privacy.

    In the article it said that the device would be good for making FaceTime calls. On the surface, that's impossible, since the device wouldn't have a camera pointing at your whole face, and even if you used an external camera, your eyes would probably be blocked by the device, making a FaceTime call useless. However I can see how Apple could use software to "remove" the Apple Glasses from your face. And I can also see how the device could have a flip-out arm (with a camera or a mirror) to take a video of your entire face, which could allow FaceTime calls to work (using software to skew your face into a normal view.)

    But if this idea works, the first thing I'll do is buy stock in a company that makes contact lenses, as their sales could rocket overnight.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contact_lens#Manufacturing <--
    Or eye care in general. Having a screen that close to your eyes for long periods is rough, regardless of mens. It’s bad enough with smartphones. 
    edited May 2023 designr
  • Reply 20 of 29
    I just went to Apple's website today and first thing I saw was a banner promoting their Accessibility initiatives. Hadn't seen this before. When you click to "Learn more", there sure are a lot of XR/ML/AI looking things there. I'd say it's a pretty good hint of the shape of things to come in terms of what Apple could do with glasses.
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