Fall is finally here. Kids are back in school and soon the leaves will start to change. But first, there are much more important matters to attend to. That's because fall means  new gadgets from Apple.

The company has already sent out invitations to its launch event next week, where, in addition to the latest iPhones and iPads--along with new iOS software--there's one thing Apple appears ready to announce that you probably weren't expecting to see. At least, that's according to a report from MacRumors that says it discovered references to Apple's long-rumored augmented reality (AR) glasses project.

Wait, AR glasses?

It's actually not that crazy. First, Tim Cook is already on the record as saying that AR is one of the most important frontiers that Apple plans to conquer moving forward. It's already a big part of gaming, it's been added to Maps in iOS13, and a variety of third-party apps including ones from IKEA and American Airlines have used Apple's AR Kit to take advantage of the technology.

But glasses? I feel like we haven't exactly seen anyone prove that this is a thing people actually want. Google Glass, for example, still exist, but you can't buy them. Google doesn't sell them to consumers anymore. Which is fine, because at $1,500, no one was really buying them anyway.

Of course, if anyone can find a way to do glasses right, I'm comfortable putting my money on Apple. The company knows how to make hardware--something Google has never exactly excelled at--and its focus on creating incredible user experiences is a good fit for developing a technology that's literally all about user experience.

It'll certainly be interesting to see what kind of computing power Apple can squeeze into a pair of glasses. Then again, previous rumors reported by 9to5Mac indicated that it may follow the path of the Apple Watch, with most of the computing power located on the iPhone. 

While Google now limits its AR glasses project to business customers like manufacturers or other specialized industries, it's not hard to see how Apple might succeed in generating demand among consumers in a way Google never could. After all, Apple has convinced a hundred million people to walk around with a  pair of dangling earbuds that most closely resemble Q-tips. 

In a lot of ways, AR glasses are really brilliant. Apple has mostly saturated the market for smartphones, and recent updates on that front haven't exactly been revolutionary. Most experts expect that 5G is still at least a year away from Apple devices, which means the company could use something to generate some buzz. Releasing a product that no one saw coming would absolutely be a win on that front. 

It would also be a win for AR and the company's belief that it has real value to our ordinary lives. Unlike virtual reality (VR), where users are transported to a completely artificial representation of the world (or some other place), AR serves to augment the information we receive about the actual world around us. A device that provides immediate visual feedback is far more useful than having to look down at your phone and open an app.

Obviously there aren't many details at this point, we don't even know exactly when we might see a pair of Apple Glasses--other than that it's now referenced in iOS 13, meaning it could be as soon as this fall. Whatever Apple plans to release, it's becoming more and more clear that augmented reality is about to become a real-world reality sooner rather than later. 

Published on: Sep 4, 2019
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