Apple’s next big product may be another wearable, which takes a new spin on a product we’re all highly familiar with: glasses. Yes, despite Google Glass’ massive failure, Apple is reportedly looking to try its hand at the same augmented or mixed reality market.
Tim Cook and Apple’s engineers have been under increasing pressure to deliver a new product that's destined to become a massive hit. Despite still selling in huge volumes, Apple’s iPhones and iPads have seen their numbers continue to fall, and the recently unveiled iPhone 7 models seem to only be having a limited positive impact in the short-term according to data from the markets and analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Similarly, Apple’s new MacBook Pro was met with a mix of anger and derision by many technology enthusiasts, for its antiquated hardware and reliance on dongles for peripheral support. The company seems to be losing a bit of its luster.
As such, Apple - like other major technology companies - is always working and testing new products behind the scenes. And according to unnamed sources, quoted by Bloomberg, the Cupertino-based company is looking at smart glasses as the next big thing.
Though still at the testing stage, Apple’s smart glasses project has many features that will be familiar to those acquainted with Google Glass. The company’s prototypes are said to offer mapping, contextual information, voice commands, and work by connecting to a nearby iPhone.
The entire project revolves around mixed, or augmented, reality. Earlier in the year, Tim Cook expressed his enthusiasm for such technology, saying that he believed it would soon become commonplace, and that we’ll wonder how we ever lived without it. While that may sound like Cook was hinting at a new product line, things may still change, and the device might be cancelled.
The company has only ordered limited components for now, indicating it’s still in the testing phase. Plus, Google came out with a similar project years ago, which eventually failed, in big part due to privacy and battery life concerns. If anything, Apple has proven it doesn’t have a solution yet for that latter problem, possibly putting its own project in a precarious position.
Even if does come out, one of the sources behind this report said it couldn’t happen before 2018. The company is still waiting for hardware components to become faster, smaller and more power-efficient before they can be properly packaged and sold to consumers in the form of eyewear.
Finally, it’s very interesting that Apple is looking at this now, because it looks like smart glasses are having a bit of a resurgence. Though Microsoft’s HoloLens is much more complex than 'simple' smart glasses, it does fall into this category. Then there’s Snapchat’s Spectacles, which were unexpectedly introduced, and which have the potential of appealing to younger users and become a hit overnight.
Whether or not Apple will manage to put out a product in time and compete in this market remains to be seen, but it looks like users may have a number of choices in this department either way.