Apple is all set to enter the Augmented Reality sector. According to common speculations, we could have an AR-enabled iPhone released late this year.

CEO Tim Cook has publicly made several comments about Augmented Reality and even went further to express his preference of AR over VR. He mentioned that unlike VR, AR does not exclude the surroundings of the user, but augments it instead. Cook was also eager to say that AR can be more immersive than VR because customers aren’t comfortable locking themselves out of their environment for extended periods of time. As Apple becomes more forthcoming about their initiatives in AR, let’s explore where they may be headed.

So, What to expect?

As of now, Apple has made no official announcement regarding any upcoming device or feature on their phone that will use AR technology, other than the few instances of Tim Cook publicly expressing his opinion of AR. Although they have made grave advancements to prepare for what would be their first public step into the AR industry.

Historically, Apple has been the pioneer in developing excellent machine-human interfaces, such as the mouse for Mac or the multi-touch on the iPod and iPhone. Going by Tim Cook’s statements, there is a high probability that AR will be used as a feature in the future iPhones. Which is also a theory backed by the dual cameras on the newest iPhone camera.

Apple aspires to launch such a feature so as to appeal to the mainstream audience, rather than just the entertainment industry, which is the main target audience of technologies like VR. Tim Cook clearly outlined this in his statement, comparing AR to the iPhone, which fits everyone’s needs and not just a demographic.

Developments so far:

  1. Apple acquiring Metaio, an AR firm:

Apple acquired Metaio, a firm providing various AR services as SDK tools, business platforms and cloud solutions.

2. Speculations of an AR-integrated camera:

Business Insider reported that Apple plans to integrate AR technology into the camera of future iPhones, so that the smartphone can easily recognize images from the camera’s feed. This is not very different from Google’s project ‘Tango’ which utilized cameras and sensors to create a 3D map of the user’s surroundings.

Reportedly, Apple will be using already existing technology of firms such as Metaio to this end. While there are speculations that an AR-enabled camera will help design a more robust face recognition platform for the smartphones, not much is known how Apple plans to design an end-user feature that makes the AR camera more useful.

3. Speculations of digital smart glasses with Carl Zeiss:

There are separate reports, including ones by famous blogger Robert Scoble, who says that Apple is reportedly working with Carl Zeiss to manufacture digital glasses that will use AR technology.

There is not much known regarding digital glasses by Apple, and if Tim Cook’s statements are anything to go by, he has clearly said that the company will use AR as a core technology to implement an innovative feature, rather than introduce a new product, per se. So chances of AR glasses appear quite foggy, but experts still predict that the digital glasses is the ultimate objective of Apple.

According to them, by rolling out AR-enabled features and hopefully, an open source SDK that will help make AR more mainstream, Apple wants to ready the market for AR glasses, which, the company plans to make as ubiquitous as the earpods in the present date.

Additionally, there also have been minor rumors that Apple will use AR to enhance the Maps feature and even use them in its autonomous vehicle designs. But there are fewer details for the same to comment upon.

Following these public comments by Tim Cook, analysts have predicted a strong probability of a future iPhone with AR features. But Apple is notoriously famous for experimenting with ideas for years before presenting them to the user. So, while we do know that Apple is working on AR, there is no certain way to tell for sure if this is a feature we can expect in the iPhone 8.

Moreover, AR is a resource-intensive technology. Implementing such technologies in a thin smartphone as the current iPhone will require serious computing power, which will affect the useful battery life of the phone. Therefore,

It remains to be seen how Apple will go past the obstacles of assembling an AR experience but it’s expected to come sooner rather than later as the next revolution in the iPhone saga.


Augmented reality for retail