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Apple has long been rumored to be working on its own standalone augmented or virtual reality device. Today, we might have received the first official confirmation that this is actually the case.
In a conversation with Apple Support concerning an unrelated issue, support staff seemingly gave away the existence of an Apple AR or VR device. During the session, iDrop News Editor Elijah Waeterling off-handedly inquired about a VR device and received the following response: “Well, all I can say is that’s [sic] pretty cool, Elijah. You can use it for animation and you can even compose/create your own VR video with it!”
Apple support just confirmed with me the company is working on an AR headset pic.twitter.com/4oFFeOFP7c
— Elijah Waeterling (@eliwaeterling) July 19, 2017
The company, of course, is rumored to be making a push into the AR/VR sphere. Apple recently unveiled ARKit, a development toolset that will make iOS the “largest AR platform in the world” when iOS 11 rolls out. Additionally, Bloomberg reported in March that Apple is working on a pair of AR “spectacles” that could connect to the company’s other products. According to a separate report, Apple could be collaborating with German optics company Carl Zeiss on such a device. Apple has also been gobbling up smaller VR/AR companies and holds quite a few patents related to the tech, including a pair of patents for a wearable AR device and a patent for an iPhone-powered VR headset akin to Google Cardboard.
There is an important distinction to make between virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). To put it simply, VR is a computer-generated simulation (think Oculus Rift), whereas AR overlays digital content over a real-world environment (like Pokemon Go). The Apple support staff member called it a VR-related device, even though most of the other evidence points toward an AR device. Apple could have a device up their sleeves that combines elements from both, or it could have two separate devices in the works. Of course, it could have simply been a slip of the tongue, so to speak.
It’s currently unclear when Apple’s AR/VR device will come out, however. One noted Apple blogger predicted a summer 2017 release, but that window is closing. A more likely scenario would be a 2018 release, at the earliest.