May 31 update below. This post was first published on May 29,2022.
A new report shows that the unveiling of an Apple Augmented Reality (AR) headset looks more likely than ever.
Monday, June 6, is the date for the keynote that opens this year’s World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC). And it looks increasingly likely that it will end with One More Thing, that Apple favorite phrase for something completely new. The last One More Thing was when the first Apple Watch was revealed alongside the iPhone 6 in September 2014. So, why is the possibility of the new headset, called Apple Glass by some, a surprise?
May 31 update.
The latest intel comes from a report by Ming-Chi Kuo, that reliably accurate analyst for TFI Securities. In a pair of tweets a few hours ago, Kuo added his voice to the conversation about what to expect from Apple in terms of its all-new AR headset.
He feels we won’t see it this week, saying: “It still takes some time before Apple AR/MR headset enters mass production, so I don’t think Apple will release AR/MR headset and rumored realityOS at WWDC this year. Apple’s competitors worldwide can’t wait to see the hardware spec and OS design for Apple’s AR/MR headset.”
MR stands for Mixed Reality, by the way.
I agree with all of that, but note that he says “release”, not unveil, announce or something like that. Perhaps I’m being overly optimistic but a bit of me is still hopeful that there could be some news. After all, I never expected the product to be released, rather that it would be teased and the operating software announced as coming soon so developers could start work immediately on crafting apps for it. But Kuo says even realityOS won’t be announced.
Kuo goes on: “I’m sure that if Apple announces AR/MR headset and its OS at WWDC, competitors will immediately kick off copycat projects and happily copy Apple’s excellent ideas, and hit the store shelves before Apple launches in 2023.”
That all makes sense, of course, and we’ve all seen countless AirPods knock-offs to know that imitation is far from the sincerest form of flattery.
Tech blogger Robert Scoble, aka @Scobleizer, feels that we won’t see the headset in any way until next year. He thinks there will be related news at WWDC, specifically, “WWDC will introduce a new development environment for a new kind of photorealistic 3D scenes, avatars, and much more. Neural radiance fields, er, NeRFs (Apple probably won’t call it that) will be featured in surprises that few are expecting.”
A second event will take place probably in January 2023, according to Scoble, and that’s when we’ll finally see the hardware, he believes. Then a third event will presage the onsale date, perhaps in a year from now.
Oh, and by the way, you’ll see below that the June 8 date is mentioned in relation to trademarks but it could be a coincidence, after all, according to a trademark lawyer.
We’ll know exactly what’s going to be announced in just a matter of days.
Well, even the most clued-up analysts like Mark Gurman have been reluctant to predict that WWDC would be the moment for this reveal, saying only that it would be this year. According to Gurman, the Apple Board has recently been given access to a demo of the headset, so it sounds like it’s near, but there was little appetite for the idea of a WWDC reveal.
That may have changed now, thanks to a new development: Parker Ortolani from The Verge has said that a company has registered the trademark RealityOS. That’s widely believed to be the name of the operating software for the AR headset. It’s been filed with June 8, 2022 as a deadline for international filing. Now, that date, I hardly need to point out, is mere days after WWDC’s keynote and such deadlines are sometimes set for just after an unveil.
The trademark is “specifically for ‘wearable computer hardware’ ”, Ortolani says.
For me, the biggest reason to suggest that the headset could be unveiled this week is that WWDC is all about developers and, to use the headset, apps will be required, so devs will need to start working on them straight away to have them ready for the new product.
Apple usually announces a product and releases it a few days later, except if it’s an entirely new product category. The first iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch were all unveiled months and months before going on sale.
The trademark came from a company called Realityo Systems LLC which, according to Ortolani, “has the exact same address as the shell corporations Apple used to hold onto the macOS California names.”
Additionally, another filing in Uganda earlier this year even uses Apple’s San Francisco font.
Does this all mean the product will definitely be unveiled?
Not quite. But there are other clues. Mark Gurman previously said that he understood that the headset would be unveiled at an Apple event which was live, not virtual. Which makes sense as the first comments will come from people checking out the headset in person.
This year’s WWDC is virtual, but—crucially—with an in-person presence from a small group of developers and guests. This in-person element is happening, so the demos of the headset to guests can take place.
We’ll know in just over a week’s time.
Oh and, one more thing, if you’ll excuse the phrase. After revealing the Apple Watch, Tim Cook strode on stage wearing it. Will he do the same thing with the headset this time?