Apple Smart Glasses Delayed by Coronavirus, Will Cost $500: Report
Apple may debut its long-rumored augmented reality smart glasses next year, according to a report by frequent Apple news leaker Jon Prosser. The unsurprisingly named Apple Glasses will cost $500 and are arriving later than originally planned due to the current COVID-19 health crisis, likely in the fall of 2021 at the earliest.
According to Prosser, as rumored, the glasses will be designed to resemble standard glasses, with the option of prescription lenses for an additional fee. Like the Apple Watch, the Apple Glasses will need to be connected to an iPhone to work, with holographic displays in both lenses controllable using gestures, according to Prosser. Also like the Apple Watch, the glasses will likely charge wirelessly. Prosser’s information updates earlier reports when Apple was still deciding about having one or two lenses. There was even speculation that the whole of the lenses would be displays based on a patent granted to Apple last year for a glass-like material able to shift between transparent and opaque. Apple specifically cited augmented reality glasses as a potential use for the material in its patent application.
None of the rumors have said anything about a microphone or speakers so it’s unclear if Apple’s Siri voice assistant will play a part in managing the smart glasses. That said, gestures and tapping can only express a short list of commands, compared to using voice controls. If Apple is making the glasses analogous to the Apple Watch in its list of features, then integrating Siri would seem inevitable. That’s especially true when considering the mandatory iPhone connection. Prosser said there are still rumors about other variations on the Apple Glasses including a more immersive virtual reality headset.
Delays and Competition
The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown every business plan into varying levels of chaos, and Apple is no exception. Prosser said the Apple Glasses were originally going to be announced this year, arriving in stores in the fall. With the limits on gatherings and strain on manufacturing and supply lines, the announcement may not happen until next March, with the smart glasses coming out late that year or early in 2022. The health crisis makes trying to predict how it will fare dicey at best, but there has undoubtedly been a growing demand for wearable tech like smart glasses since people moved past the ignominious end of Google Glass as a consumer product.
Like Apple is planning, North Focals smart glasses use holographic displays, although North limits it to one lens. The second generation of North Focals smart glasses are supposed to arrive this year. Facebook, in partnership with Ray-Ban, is building something similar. However, both North and the Facebook smart glasses are built around an integrated voice assistant in addition to manual control in the shape of a ring. Amazon is committing even harder to audio with the Echo Frames, which, like the Bose Frames, rely entirely on a voice assistant to manage the smart glasses. Even with the delays, Apple can probably expect plenty of interest in its eyewear, a Gartner report last year estimated that consumers will spend 27% more on wearable technology in 2020, a total of $52 billion. The global health crisis almost definitely means a downward trajectory from those estimates, but that doesn’t mean people won’t shell out for designer Apple eyewear to go with their watch and phone as soon as they are able.