Apple tipped to launch standalone AR headset in 2019

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Apple engineers are said to be now prototyping a range of applications for use in AR, reportedly using HTC Vive headsets for testing them.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) plans to have an augmented reality headset ready in 2019 and shipping as early as the following year, according to Bloomberg.

The device may have a gaming focus, with Geoff Stahl, software manager for games and graphics at Apple, being a key part of the development team.

Apple is searching for its next killer product, and hopes an augmented reality headset might fit the bill. Magic Leap, which has been quietly working on its own augmented reality hardware, is thought to be targeting consumers instead. The chip could be similar to the integrated system used on the Apple Watch. Right now, ARKit apps let you play video games in real space, see how furniture and other items look in your room before buying, measure distances and create floor plans, and more.

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In September, at the launch of the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller touted it as the "first smartphone designed for AR". The headset would feature its own display rather than relying an iPhone, and it would run a new spin-off from iOS in the vein of watchOS or tvOS, now called rOS internally, for "reality operating system". The new operating system-called "rOS" for "reality operating system"-is based on iOS, Bloomberg reported". This is in line with what CEO Tim Cook said last month while addressing rumors of the AR glasses. "AR is going to change everything".

More detail includes that Apple is still considering how to control the device, using either head gestures and voice or a touch panel.

Apple's push to create an AR headset has been expansive and aggressive, according to Bloomberg.

In addition to a predictable second version of the ARKit software tool collection reportedly planned for a 2018 release, those long-rumored Apple smart glasses might be starting to shape up, according to "people familiar with the situation" quoted today by Bloomberg. The headset will be capable of running its own apps, and have access to a dedicated version of Apple's app store. In his comments about Apple's future in AR glasses, Cook said Apple doesn't make a habit of rushing to be first if that means delivering a sub par product and doesn't intend to start now.

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