Apple is quietly preparing to become the king of consumer AR


It's already been established that Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, is really pumped for augmented reality, as he's previously gone on record as saying his company plans to heavily invest in the technology in the long run. And it seems that wasn't just empty talk, either, as, according to a Bloomberg report, "hundreds of engineers are now devoted to the cause" of bringing AR to Apple's products, a result of the company carefully picking up talent from around the world for several years now.

The company is reportedly heavily investing into what it believes is its new big frontier, hiring former Oculus and Microsoft engineers, "digital effects wizards" from Hollywood, as well as appointing Mike Rockwell, an ex-Dolby Laboratories executive, as the division's head. And that's just the start – for a couple of years Apple has been buying out small companies in the business, such as Metaio, an AR software development studio, FlyBy Media, a maker of AR-related camera software, PrimeSense, which designed a number of depth-sensing camera algorithms, and more.

But how could this translate into actual products a consumer can buy? We've previously heard rumors of the company working on its own special-purpose AR glasses, but this could prove to be a large and complicated endeavor – for an example of how warm the public reacts to this particular application of the technology, look no further than Google Glass, a product which took a nosedive from being hyped to widely hated faster than you can say "I do not consent to be filmed."

But it's not just glasses, as Apple is also working on some sort of AR implementation for its iPhone line, too, which is an easy decision for the company if it plans to go all-in on the tech. And it's not that far-fetched, either: Google, too, tried this before with its Tango platform, which, while technically alive, has been far from an immediate success, though it's also still in its infancy, which makes some of its technical problems and lack of popularity excusable.

Several different iPhone tech demos have been produced, including ones allowing for Lytro-style after-shot refocusing, 3D object scanning, and seamless virtual object placing in real space (again, just like Google's Tango). However, we imagine those are more proof-of-concepts than they are serious product applications. Apple may eventually release them to the public, but even if it does, they'll likely be little more than toys to get users hooked on the new tech.

In any case, we most likely have some time before we get to see what Apple is cooking up, as, even if the company does incorporate its AR tech into this year's smartphone offerings, which is a small but real possibility, it will probably offer the bare minimum in regards to features, more of a statement of intent to corner the market than an actual, full-fledged product. Plus, we still have a few months until we get any sort of official announcement, so for now we advise exercising cautious optimism.

source: Bloomberg

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70 Comments

1. bobby84

Posts: 595; Member since: May 13, 2016

All Apple has to do is release the same phone every year isheeps will still buy it. No need to try something new that cost money.

3. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Post like these are getting old, especially since not all Apple fans are so naive as to simply buy the new iPhone no matter what.

18. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

He never said all of them. But YOU did. Fact is he is right and it is true of thr vast of people who buy Apple products in general.

31. kiko007

Posts: 7493; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

Do you even try to make sense?

68. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

reply to #3 not all.. but most

4. nctx77

Posts: 2540; Member since: Sep 03, 2013

You can say the same about Android devices.

10. willard12 unregistered

Some people say that constantly...whether it is true or not.

32. sgodsell

Posts: 7170; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Nctx77 Android OEMs cannot afford to sit on their Laurels​ like Apple, by pumping out the same device every year (with very little changes). Especially when some Android devices around the $200 mark offer some specs that are actually better than what Apples latest iPhone 7 offers, only for a fraction of the price that Apple is asking. No wonder why Apple sees record profits all the time.

21. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

No you can't. Because thr vast majority of people who buy Android phones do so because it is the cheapest option availabke im their country. Samsu g sells 300M+ Android phones. 200M have been proven to be phome other than the S and Note. So buying what you can agford doesnt make you a fan. Big difference.

27. sgodsell

Posts: 7170; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Post 4. Nctx77 Although that is true as well in a number of cases. However Apples iPhones cost a lot more than your average Android device. Yet offer a lot less hardware specs than many Android devices. Before a lot of you Apple zealots jump all over me. You have to admit that a iPhone 7 at even $650 USD is too much for the specs you are getting. It has 32 GB of non expandable storage, 2 GB of ram, a HD display (1334x750), cat 9 LTE, USB 2.0 lightning port, wifi AC, and Bluetooth 4.2. Now i can buy an Android smartphone for example that is brand new with the latest Android version (eg. Moto G5 for $199). It has 3 GB ram, same storage, and it has expandable storage, a larger 5" higher resolution full HD (1920x1080) display, LTE cat 6, USB 2.0, wifi AC, and Bluetooth 4.2. You can go on about service and updates. However it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that even if the Moto G5 in this example only lasted 2 years. Then you could still buy a Moto Gx device every 2nd year, and still be way ahead of that user who purchased an iPhone 7 for $650 in terms of savings. By a mile. It's no wonder why Apple sees record profits, especially​ since Apple is over charging it's customers all the time.

40. omnitech

Posts: 1131; Member since: Sep 28, 2016

Um no, they put their foot down too hard at times. GS5, HTCM9, current HTC U ultra all got trashed pretty hard, and they made way more changes and R&D investments that any iphone ever has, so do proper research or get a clue before you say Android fans are anything like you isheep.

19. NexusX

Posts: 613; Member since: May 16, 2013

welll said. I wonder how many thumbs up i can get with a script that automatically repeats the this comment whenever an phonearena article has the keyword "apple"

2. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

I was sure they would start with VR like everyone else but of course Apple likes to be different. Anyway, it will be interesting to see just how far Apple can take AR.

5. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

Apple shaoed VR front? Maybe? Slightly bitten...lol.

6. mikehunta727 unregistered

AR is to be much more useful and larger with smartphones/smart devices then VR imo. I think it is good they start on AR first, great actually.

16. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

I think so to, VR has much more potential on PCs and consoles than it does on mobile imo.

23. mikehunta727 unregistered

Agreed. PC's and consoles are typically stationary and stay in one spot, our cellphones are with us every step, real time translation of a different language with our cameras, etc, the possibilities are endless with AR

56. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

AR/VR on same device are the way to go. One whitout the others is like cereal whitout milk.. good but not perfect.

24. Rampage_Taco

Posts: 1034; Member since: Jan 17, 2017

How is starting with AR "different", they aren't the first to do so

33. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Samsung and Google are focusing on VR more than AR, Apple is the first huge company to not focus on VR and instead choose AR.

36. Rampage_Taco

Posts: 1034; Member since: Jan 17, 2017

Microsoft?

41. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Yes but they aren't focusing on mobile. HoloLens is a standalone AR headset after all.

42. omnitech

Posts: 1131; Member since: Sep 28, 2016

Sheep please. Microsoft is doing some impressive stuff and even if Google is leaning more towards VR, they have the resources to focus on it just as well as Apple. Especially since Apple spends way less on R&D than Google and their partners.

46. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Bitch please, Post # 36. Microsoft is doing great things with AR just not in mobile and Google isn't going to get serous about mobile AR either, the best they got is project tango and it's not impressive. You're just mad because you know when Apple does something they always do it better than the rest. Go suck your mom's tit and get hell off PA.

48. Rampage_Taco

Posts: 1034; Member since: Jan 17, 2017

Whoa man, I hope you didn't just call me a bitch because of Omnitech. But regardless of HoloLens being considered standalone and not mobile, Microsoft really kickstarted large companies interest in the AR realm. Just as Oculus Rift being a "standalone" VR set, it was a cornerstone for making VR come to the masses. And the Article is about consumer AR, which Hololens is a Consumer product. If Apple truly intends to implement useful AR in their devices they will have to start increasing their specs, otherwise their AR will just be a slightly improved Pokémon Go experience

49. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Nah bruh, that bitch reply was for omnitech lol. I agree with you btw.

50. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Perhaps Apple will develop a more powerful iPhone specially for AR. It's actually what I think Samsung should do for VR as well as any other company that cares about VR. It just seems smarter to me for them to do that, most of them already make 2-3 variants of their flagship phones anyway. I didn't mean to put post number #36 in that omnitech reply, I was going to say something else but didn't erase it because I got pissed and forgot lol.

51. Rampage_Taco

Posts: 1034; Member since: Jan 17, 2017

Well if the rumors are true then they will have the 7s/7s+ and the 8(or X) this year. That could be their way of implementing an annually more powerful device. I think releasing the more powerful device could suffice being bi-annual if they make it that much stronger, then focus on doing software updates for 2 years and refresh the hardware. I believe I read on here weeks back about Samsung acquiring some VR/AR companies or something along those lines. Samsung doesn't even make their VR headsets, relying on Oculus. Which is probably smart for them in the time being since the headset isn't really anymore advance than Daydream, except the phone plugs into it. Until VR and AR become more standard, I don't see any Mobile company designing a phone or tablet based around either one. Those who want a great VR Experience will just go with Rift and those who want a powerful AR Experience will eventually be able to afford HoloLens. Perhaps with Apple (and potentially Samsung) pushing into the AR market will make Microsoft step up their work with the Hololens. Especially with VR getting all the attention with Oculus, Google, Samsung, HTC, and Sony

55. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

I like the idea of a biannually more powerful device. I can actually see samsung building a phone around VR sooner rather than latter TBH.

60. Rampage_Taco

Posts: 1034; Member since: Jan 17, 2017

If they are serious about VR, I think they should develop a standalone VR system, One where you don't need to constantly worry about the device overheating

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