Apple Might Be Quietly Planning To Make A Google Glass Competitor

By Sarah Basford on at

Augmented reality headsets haven't quite revolutionised the world like some originally speculated they would. They're clunky, heavy and their functionality is pretty limited right now. But a new report claims Apple might be throwing its hat in the AR headset ring anyway. The report claimed to have discovered code on iOS 13 suggesting there's one on the way. Here's what we know.

Internal builds of Apple's iOS 13, sighted by MacRumors, reportedly include an app called "STARTester". This app gives the option of switching between a "head-mounted" mode and a "held" one, strongly hinting it's for AR purposes.

The MacRumor report outlines the builds also contain other evidence like README files, codes referencing StarBoard modes as well as a possible codename, "Garta", for an AR device.

While Apple is yet to confirm whether it's working on its own AR device, the news hasn't popped out of nowhere. Back in 2017, Bloomberg reported Apple was working on an actual headset with "its own display and [running] on a new chip and operating system." It was apparently titled "rOS" for "reality operating system" and was initially expected for a 2019 release.

Apple insiders and analysts, including renowned analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, have alleged Apple is planning on releasing AR glasses by mid-2020. They'll be marketed as an accessory, Kuo claims, meaning, if true, it's not the standalone product Bloomberg's 2017 article reported on.

Apple already uses ARKit, which allows developers to produce AR applications for Apple devices. A number of apps, developed by companies such as American Airlines and IKEA, are readily available for Apple device users on the App Store.

AR headsets, like Google Glass which was never adopted by a wider audience and was widely panned by critics, exist but didn't revolutionise our lives like some had imagined they might. The first release headset was discontinued in 2015 but Google brought it back and rebranded it as a tool for factory workers in 2017.

With the iPhone 11 launch fast approaching, we hope we'll hear more about Apple's plans for an AR headset.

Featured image: Getty

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