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DigiTimes: Apple Has Temporarily Stopped Developing AR/VR Headsets, Team Disbanded in May [Updated]

Update: As noted by Jeremy Horwitz, more details are now available on DigiTimes Taiwan, which reports that Apple has "temporarily stopped developing AR/VR headsets." The report claims the team working on them was disbanded in May and reassigned to other product developments. Original story below.

Apple has reportedly "terminated" development of its widely rumored augmented reality glasses project, according to DigiTimes.

MacRumors concept of Apple Glasses

Multiple sources have claimed that Apple plans to release augmented reality glasses as early as 2020, including well-known analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, and CNET, so the DigiTimes report if accurate reflects a cancellation of a major hardware project on Apple's roadmap.

DigiTimes preliminary headline

DigiTimes has a mixed track record in relation to reporting on Apple's future plans, but it appears to be citing another report in this case. However, the DigiTimes story is currently paywalled behind its "Before Going to Press" section, so we'll have to wait for specific details to be made public.

Kuo said Apple's glasses would be marketed as an iPhone accessory and primarily take a display role while wirelessly offloading computing, networking, and positioning to the iPhone. He believed mass production could begin at some point between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the second quarter of 2020.

In November 2017, Gurman reported that Apple's headset would run a custom iOS-based operating system dubbed "rOS" for "reality operating system." At the time, he said Apple had not finalized how users would control the headset, but possibilities included touchscreens, Siri voice activation, and head gestures.

In April 2018, CNET said Apple was developing an augmented reality headset that features an 8K display for each eye and would be untethered from either a computer or a smartphone. The report claimed the headset would instead connect to a "dedicated box" using high-speed short-range 60GHz WiGig technology.

Gurman and other sources previously reported that Apple was working on several different wearable augmented reality prototypes under the umbrella code name of "T288," so it is still possible that a product of some kind could be released.

Apple has been exploring virtual reality and augmented reality technologies for more than 10 years based on patent filings. The company is also rumored to have a secretive research unit comprising hundreds of employees working on AR and VR, exploring ways the technologies could be used in future Apple products.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has talked up the prospect of augmented reality several times, saying he views AR as "profound" because the technology "amplifies human performance instead of isolating humans."

Related Roundup: Apple Glasses

Top Rated Comments

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5 days ago at 06:16 am

Those things look horrible from an aesthetic and industrial design standpoint....

So Macrumors posts a random generic rendering of smart glasses and you assume it's an Apple design?
Rating: 76 Votes
5 days ago at 06:15 am
When Tim says “great products in the pipeline” did he mean Apple News+? No car, no glasses, what are they planning that is new hardware? I guess they are destined to just be services and monthly fees now?
Rating: 41 Votes
5 days ago at 06:15 am
Oof, that product pipeline starting to look a little less exciting Mr Cook
Rating: 26 Votes
5 days ago at 06:20 am
Likely the same problems as Google Glass. Looks stupid, doesn’t solve a problem, too slow, tech isn’t there.

Maybe in the future.

If true, I credit Apple for knowing something isn’t ready.
Rating: 21 Votes
5 days ago at 06:18 am
Terminated? Well, bring on the iPhone 11 then. Surely something to compete with the Huawei Mate 20 Pro.

Rating: 12 Votes
5 days ago at 06:16 am
Aren't these the whole point behind all the AR stuff? Or at least the justification for the investment.

I mean that's when it would all finally start to make sense.
Rating: 12 Votes
5 days ago at 06:17 am
I would really be surprised if this is true. Apple has invested a lot of time and effort in AR technology and I think Apple Watch, Air Pods & Apple Glasses would make a great trio of wearable devices to allow people to stay connected while they walk around "heads up" and "hands free".
Rating: 12 Votes
5 days ago at 06:16 am

Those things look horrible from an aesthetic and industrial design standpoint....

I'm reasonably sure that the picture is not the final product (or even a current version).
Rating: 10 Votes
5 days ago at 07:16 am

Aren't these the whole point behind all the AR stuff? Or at least the justification for the investment.

I mean that's when it would all finally start to make sense.

Same way the airpower would have been the whole point behind all the wireless charging stuff and fragile glass iPhone backs.

Cook's pipeline is a random pies-in-the-sky-line where dated, dysfunctional or unproven "innovations" (Lenovo's original touchbar, AR, USBc-only) meet formerly useful but killed features (MagSafe, audiojack, TouchID) and a conundrum of legacy+new tech (lightning port on some devices, USBC on others, FaceTime on some, TouchID on others etc) into derivative product enclosures that don't push any envelope other than the price point. There's no cohesive product vision at all. Some will say AirPods and Watch 4 are great, sure they are for accessories. But also the HomePod has been a disaster and Apple hasn't figured out how to fix a MacBook keyboard design. Others will say it's "all part of a process". Well.. how much longer will it continue proceeding until we are "there"? Apple was "there" in 2012, it had a kickass trim portfolio of products that rocked.

Even if Apple used to copy ideas (half of Ive's portfolio has been inspired by Dieter Rams), at least they did it in a way that left us all bamboozled with excitement. Now it's like slow meandering dad humour, over and over with every product release, and "they think we're gonna love it". Well.. we don't.
Rating: 9 Votes
5 days ago at 06:26 am
Considering this rumor is coming from Digitimes and their contacts are almost exclusively within the supply chain, the more likely "truth" is that Apple has terminated production contracts that they might have had in place to produce these devices.

So rather than scrapping the entire project, another possibility is that Apple does not feel they are ready to go into production near-term and will continue to develop the product internally until they are. So expect another article from them in a year or two detailing how Apple is preparing to ship these things. :p

EDIT - Changed MCK to Digitimes.
Rating: 9 Votes

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