The company will continue to develop the system over the next few years, including the release of more advanced software tools in 2018.
While Apple (AAPL) publicly dismisses the notion of coming out with augmented-reality glasses anytime soon, the company is working feverishly to have an AR headset ready in 2019 and for sale the following year, Bloomberg reported Wednesday.
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Apple did not immediately respond to PCMag's request for comment.
Some of Apple's competitors, including Microsoft and Google, have already delivered augmented reality headsets. Apple's use of full-faced devices such as the HTC Vive suggests that instead of trying to tackle the hard and expensive problem of lightfield technology Apple may simply be going for a simpler passthrough system where the only challenge would be to improve latency to an acceptable level. Augmented reality overlays virtual objects on the real world and can be used in a variety of ways, including in video games, corporate settings, and more.
Apple sees the AR headset as a successor to the iPhone, the report said. This will even include multi-user support.
According to Bloomberg, the team building Apple's headset is also designing a processor that would power the device, as well as a new operating system it's now calling rOS, or "reality operating system".
But while viewing AR objects through a phone screen now works, what everyone really wants is a headset that puts digital information right in front of your eyes.
AR could help Apple re-energize its fan base and re-establish its mobile leadership, according to TechRepublic's Conner Forrest. Apple's "rOS" will power the AR headset very much like how watchOS and tvOS powers the Apple Watch and the Apple TV.
Avid tech geeks will notice Apple's plans sound a lot like what Google's fledgling Daydream VR platform, which consists of the Daydream View VR headset with controller, and a special version of the Google Play Store just for discovering and installing VR apps. This is apparently an interim step, in order to give Apple an opportunity to test the technology on an existing product. "This means that they will not only introduce an head-mounted display, but show us a number of different applications that have developed that Apple feels best demonstrates the strengths of their tech offering" Nguyen said.