Apple will release its Apple Glass inside the next couple of years. But what will you be able to do with augmented reality-powered smart glasses?
Everyone remembers Google Glass. As a concept, they were pretty cool. Things didn’t pan out for Glass, though, and the product was eventually killed off by Google, joining a myriad of other products inside Google’s failed tech cemetery.
AR (or augmented reality), however, shows no signs of dying off – more and more apps are starting to use the technology. You even have super-popular apps like Pokemon Go that are entirely based around the concept. No company has yet managed to truly nail the concept in a product, however.
Apple Glass Breakdown (Quick Points):
- Release Date: 2022/2023
- Operating System: rOS
- Price: $500-$800
- Type of Device: Augmented Reality
Could Apple Glass be the product that finally makes AR a thing? Plans are afoot inside Apple’s HQ to bring a pair of AR-powered smart glasses to market within the next couple of years. Called Apple Glass (or Apple Glasses), these smart spectacles will be very different from Google Glass. But could they go on to become a popular consumer product?
That all depends on what you’ll be able to do with them. In this post, we’ll explore eight potential applications for Apple Glasses.
Apple Glass Features – What They’ll Do For You
#1 – Bring iPhone Into Your Line of Sight
The Apple Glass will be powered by the iPhone, similar to the Apple Watch. In order to use them, you will need an iPhone. And there will be no Android support. The reason for this, which we’ll explore in a bit, is to do with components. Apple will use the iPhone to do all the heavy lifting in order to make the Apple Glass lighter and less complicated.
With Apple Glasses, wearers will be able to interact with their iPhone directly in their line of sight. You’ll be able to read messages, interact with the web, view pictures, and watch videos on the lenses right in front of your eyes. With Siri, you’ll be able to dictate notes, messages, and queries.
iPhone will be an intrinsic component of Apple Glasses. The Apple Silicon will do all the heavy-lifting, ensuring snappy performance and greater power efficacy for the smart glasses which will effectively act as a conduit for media and applications, not a source. Think of the Apple Glass as a really smart pair of wireless displays on your face.
#2 – They’ll Have A Proper Heads-Up Display
Unlike Google Glass, or any commercial VR headsets currently on the market, Apple Glass will display a fully interactive 3D AR environment in front of the viewer’s vision – a 3D environment that can be interacted with.
A leaked presentation by Apple on the Apple Glass claimed that the smart spectacles will be able to map spaces and physical objects more accurately than current AR devices on the market.
All the magic is done via the Apple Glasses’ display (meaning the lenses you look through). Nothing concrete is known about how these lenses work, or what they’re made of, though, presumably it is some kind of plastic or glass. Apple has quite a few interesting optics-focused patents.
Whatever ends up being used, one thing is clear: Apple Glass will display a fully immersive, 3D AR environment in front of the wearer’s line of sight. And as anyone who works in marketing will tell you, the potential applications for this sort of technology are truly enormous.
#3 – Apple Glass Will Run rOS – “Reality OS”
Apple has now begun trial production runs for Apple Glass. These stress tests will inform the company on how easy it is to mass-produce the smart glasses, as well as the costs associated with building them.
New products create new problems, so this testing phase could last over 12 months. This is why we probably won’t see Apple Glass until 2023 at the earliest. Apple’s manufacturing partners will need new technology and new processes to create and build millions of units. And that takes time.
In the meantime, Apple has been developing a new software platform for Apple Glass to run on. Called rOS, the new augmented reality operating system is said to be closely based on iOS, according to Ming-Chi Kuo. rOS will apparently run on a “system on a package” chip like the chipset inside Apple Watch.
#4 – Apple GlassWill Look Like Normal Glasses
The big sell with Apple Glass is that they will look like normal glasses. Google Glass, while cool, just looked too weird. It was never going to have mass appeal; it just looked too alien. With Apple Glass, the design will focus on hiding the technology and making the smart glasses as normal-looking as possible.
The upshot of this is that people will not be fearful of wearing the new technology, especially if they already wear glasses. Another benefit? Apple could partner up with third party glasses companies like Ray-Ban and Tom Ford for additional Apple Glass designs.
If Apple Glass is successful, I’d expect to see the first third-party additions within a year of the original Glass devices launching. The potential for collaboration with big-name glasses brands is enormous, so long as the technology is simple enough to integrate.
#5 – Siri Will Live Inside Apple Glass
Apple is said to be testing out multiple designs for Apple Glass; some have buttons, some do not. This process will likely happen for the next 12 months, as more and more prototypes are developed based on feedback and criticism from test users.
Whatever happens with the design of Apple Glass, one thing is clear: Siri will live inside the Apple Glass headset and will be the go-to means of interacting with them. This means Siri will likely be getting plenty of new functionality, and potentially a new call sign – you wouldn’t want to activate Siri on your iPhone when using Apple Glass, for instance.
#6 – Apple GlassWill Get Its Own App Store
In order to keep things organized, and make life easier for developers, Apple is also apparently planning to open a dedicated Apple Glass app store.
How this will work remains to be seen; will it only be accessible via the Apple Glass UX or will users be able to access it on iPhone and then use downloaded apps on the Apple Glass? Right now, no one knows. But there will be a dedicated Apple Glass store. That much is more or less certain.
#7 – Less Component Complexity Means Lower Price
Using the iPhone as the power train for the Apple Glass allows Apple to limit the amount of technology it uses inside the Apple Glass. This means it can make the units lighter and cheaper to buy – fewer components mean a lower bill of materials and a less complicated production process.
If Apple can pull this off and retail its Apple Glass for a reasonable price ($300 to $600) this would drive initial adoption, add in thousands more early adopters, and help propel the new platform forwards.
This is a big IF, though; the first Apple Glass units will likely be very expensive. New, innovative products always are. But prices could come down for newer models, once Apple has 12 months’ worth of sales under its belt and the product is showing potential for mass adoption.
#8 – Apple Glass Battery Life
One of the key things that will make or break Apple Glass is its battery performance. Google Glass’ battery was awful, so Apple will need to ensure that it doesn’t make the same mistake with Apple Glass. A minimum of three hours of uptime would be the absolute lowest it could get away with.
If Apple could somehow ensure eight hours of battery life, it would definitely win over a lot of people. This would mean, so long as you weren’t using them all the time, you could get through a full day of usage on a single charge.
Knowing Apple, it will be looking for a sweet sport where battery size provides decent performance without affecting the look and design of the smart glasses too much. To be honest, I think most people would be happy with three to four hours of battery life for the first models.
Early adopters are seldom deterred by things like battery life. As Apple Glass develops, and battery tech gets smarter, battery performance will improve. Another option is wireless charging. By 2022/2023, Apple will almost certainly have a 100W wireless charging solution and this would effectively render battery performance a moot point, especially if you could use your iPhone to charge the Apple Glass via charge sharing (something you can already do on Samsung and many other Android phones).
And check out What is Apple realityOS?
Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.