Apple's first augmented reality (AR) product is the gift that keeps on giving. That's quite the feat, really, because the company hasn't officially announced that it's even considering a move into the AR market. Yet, reports about that move continue to make their rounds, and the latest from The Information claimed that Apple won't actually release its first AR product until 2022, which is later than what previous reports have claimed.
The Information said Apple's working on two AR products. The one reportedly arriving in 2022 is an AR headset similar to the likes of Microsoft's HoloLens products or the Magic Leap One. The second product, reportedly set to debut in 2023, was described as a "sleeker" pair of AR smart glasses akin to Google Glass.
"Apple executives discussed the timelines, which haven’t been previously reported, in an internal presentation to employees at the company’s Cupertino, California, campus in October, according to people familiar with the matter. Apple Vice President Mike Rockwell, who heads the team responsible for Apple’s AR and virtual reality initiatives, led the meeting, which included new details about the design and features of the AR headset, these people said. The product timetables run counter to recent analyst and media reports that said an Apple AR device could arrive as early as next year," The Information reported.
That's a bit of an understatement. Analysts like Ming-Chi Kuo, who often reveals Apple products before they're officially announced, as well as publications like Bloomberg have repeatedly claimed that Apple would release an AR product in 2020. The exact timeframe varied, as did the nature of the device, but the reports all seemed to agree that Apple would enter the AR market sooner than later.
As we noted when Digitimes maintained that Apple would release its first AR product next year, there is some evidence that the company's interested in the category. It's acquired several AR-focused companies since 2015, and although it's possible that those companies' technologies were simply meant to improve the AR features in the iPhone and iPad, that seems like a lot of money to spend on relatively niche AR tools.
Before there was at least some consensus on when Apple would finally enter the AR market. After this report from The Information, though, it seems like most of the company's potential plans have been covered. Apple could release an AR product until 2020. If it doesn't, just wait until 2022! And if that doesn't happen, well, we're sure there will be other we-swear-this-is-accurate launch dates shared before then.