Apple’s augmented reality headset has been in the rumor mill for quite a while now. But next year, they could finally become a consumer reality.
In a new investors note published by TF Securities, well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says that Apple may be gearing up to release its AR headset within the first half of next year.
Kuo forecasts that the Cupertino tech giant would kick off mass production of its AR headset by the fourth quarter of this year.
The device itself could see a launch in the second quarter of 2020.
Interestingly, today’s report also suggests that Apple will partner with “third-party brands” to launch the head-mounted device.
Kuo also corroborates some of his past predictions in that the AR headset would be marketed as an iPhone accessory, with most of its connectivity and processing power driven by Apple’s handsets.
Apple appears to be prioritizing keeping the AR glasses lightweight and slim, which likely means offloading much of its functionality to an iPhone.
As far as other details, Kuo notes that Apple has tapped Changying Precision to be the primary chassis supplier.
Past AR Glasses Rumors
The existence of an Apple AR headset, or at least evidence of its development, is essentially confirmed at this point. In fact, it looked like Apple was readying the device for a launch in September but ended up not announcing it.
That’s backed up by numerous references to a “head-mounted experience” (HME) within code strings discovered in iOS 13. In addition to describing an HME, the code strings also refer to internal AR headset codenames and other corroborated details.
But while we can safely say a head-mounted AR device is coming, what form it’ll take is much less clear.
Bloomberg, for example, once reported that an upcoming Apple head-mounted AR device would sport its own operating system and App Store, and could function independently of an iPhone.
More recent reports, like today’s prediction from Kuo, seem to indicate that the AR headset would be much more akin to an accessory. In other words, it’ll be an iPhone accessory rather than an iPhone killer.
When Are They Coming?
Past Kuo rumors suggest that the Apple device would be ready in time by the middle of next year. Today’s prediction seems to bring that timeline up a bit.
It’s also worth noting that Apple may even debut the AR glasses (or at least tease them) as early as this year — and possibly this month.
As pointed out by MacRumors editor Joe Rossignol, Apple typically announces new product categories months before they are actually released. He gives several examples, including the original iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and HomePod.
If Apple were to launch the AR headset between April and June 2020, we may be able to expect an announcement sometime this year.