Apple has suspended work on a pair of lightweight augmented reality (AR) glasses due to technical challenges, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman claimed on Tuesday.
Gurman went so far as to say that the company’s “dream of offering a lightweight pair of AR glasses that people could wear all day now appears many years away — if it happens at all.”
The tech giant is still planning to release its premium mixed-reality headset this year, but development of the AR glasses — a physically light, minimalistic, and cheaper product — is clearly facing serious challenges.
Apple is thought to have originally planned to launch the AR specs this year, but then delayed it to 2025. But now the entire project appears to be hanging in the balance.
It’s been suggested that the tech giant sees AR glasses as a possible replacement for the iPhone, moving a handset’s functions to a display incorporated into high-tech specs.
Virtual reality (VR) headsets, which immerse a user in a virtual world, have gained a degree of traction thanks in part to Meta’s Quest, and earlier Oculus, devices. But AR glasses, which overlay digital information onto real-world views, have proved harder to develop. Google, for example, invested huge amounts of time and money on trying to bring its Google Glass specs to market, but ended up scaling down the project. Part of the challenge is trying to fit so much technology — including a powerful battery — into a device that’s supposed to look a like a regular pair of glasses.
Gurman said in his report that Apple is still planning to launch a lower-cost mixed-reality headset, that could be called Reality One, in 2024. This would be a follow-up to the premium model — possibly called Reality Pro — that’s expected to go on sale this year for around $3,000.
The Bloomberg reporter also said that most of Apple’s 1,000 person-plus unit dedicated to AR and VR is “focused on the first two mixed-reality headsets,” adding that Apple still has some teams “exploring technologies that would go into standalone glasses, should they eventually launch.”