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Has Apple’s Tim Cook put everything on the line for Apple Reality?


Is there a turf war between Apple’s operations and design teams over the first-generation Apple AR glasses? Or are we now hearing about old news being rehashed as competitors spread negative gossip in fear of Apple’s looming AR launch?

What we think we know

We can’t be certain, but this is what happened on the Apple Rumor Merry-go-round in the last 48 hours:

  • The Financial Times claimed Apple CEO Tim Cook might have ordered the launch of the new devices this year, despite warnings from those working on the project that the product isn’t yet ready.
  • Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman later said the events described took place in 2018 when then-design lead Jony Ive pushed for AR above VR, with Apple compromising on a mixed-reality headset.
  • Gurman also said 11 high-ranking executives left the company in the second half of 2022. These were people in command of hardware, software, design, privacy, cloud, and other key verticals across the company. This may not relate to the above, but hints at some internal instability.

Apple has reportedly been working on AR glasses for seven years or more.

Years in development

I believe research began years before this, at least in 2008 when Research and Markets claimed Apple and Sony had begun developing wearable, head-mounted video displays. “These products will offer navigation features in full see-through mode as well as video viewing with a clip-on to block the background,” researchers claimed at the time.

The products are expected to be state-of-the-art with 4K OLED displays, advanced eye- and hand-tracking sensors, motion-based controls, collaboration tools, and easy-to-use development tools, including an App Store and powerful operating system.

With this in mind it is interesting that Cook took a trip to visit Sony’s cutting-edge image sensor research facility in Japan in December 2022. Sony will provide Apple with state-of-the-art image sensors for this year’s iPhone, so it’s reasonable to think those sensors will power the dozen cameras that are expected in Apple’s V.1 mixed-reality headset.

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