Apple's launch of an augmented reality headset that would allow you to place digital content on top of the real world will come in 2022, and a year later, it will offer a set of glasses that can do the same thing, The Information reported Monday.
There's currently a race to get to the point where AR can fit inside a small enough product that it can be worn like normal glasses and without a big bulky headset. The hope is that AR can be the next major computing platform that replaces phones, computer screens and televisions with a pair of smart glasses.
Top Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in early October that Apple was planning to launch its headset in 2020. The Information report suggests that the company has decided to push the date back two years.
The Information said Apple gathered "enough employees to fill the 1,000 seat Steve Jobs Theater" to discuss the timeline for its new AR products. Normally, Apple silos its top-secret projects so that as few employees as possible know about major launches.
The first headset will be big, according to The Information, which said it will be similar in size to Facebook's large Oculus Quest virtual reality headset. That product doesn't require a computer, but it would be too big and awkward to walk around with. Plus, since it uses VR instead of AR, it transports you out of this world and into a digital one where you can't see your surroundings.
Apple's headset and glasses will use cameras for augmented reality, similar to what's already available on modern iPhones and iPads, The Information report said.
Apple plans to reduce the size of that with another product, a set of AR glasses dubbed "N421" that are "meant to be worn all day," according to the report.
Google Glass and products from companies like Vuzix are capable of displaying information on a small screen in front of a user, but augmented reality would allow much more complex information, displaying things like games or objects in the world around a user. AR on an iPhone, for example, can let you place a digital couch in your living room to see if it fits before you buy it.
Microsoft's HoloLens and HoloLens 2, as well as Magic Leap, use augmented reality but are still large and bulky. The Army is testing HoloLens 2 technology in its IVAS headset, which makes soldiers more lethal and can be worn on the battlefield.