Divining the future from the Apple crystal ball takes patience, insight, experience, and a couple of bottles of sake over some fresh sushi and sashimi in the hopes you might overhear a few loose lips from a Cupertino engineer on a night out on the town.
Here in the Bay area we get some of those scenarios though I have yet to find a lost experimental iPhone in a nearby bar. What I’ve pieced together seems obvious in hindsight, and if Apple will tell me their plans in advance than I can grade my prognostications. In hindsight. What’s coming from Apple this year, next year, or soon, should by now be obvious.
Augmented Reality Glasses
No, I’m not talking the all too Borg-like Google Glass that almost single handedly destroyed the smartglasses industry before it became a thing. They were too sinister and didn’t do much. No, I’m not taking about the cleverly designed and highly fashionable Snap Spectacles which might right Google’s wrongs. They’re way cute but don’t do much.
No, I’m talking about full on augmented reality glasses from Apple that extend functions from the iPhone the way Watch does, but look and feel like, well, fashionable glasses, in the same way as Watch with all those case styles and colors and watchbands are fashionable yet utilitarian. Watch is not a standalone device. Yet. Apple Glasses won’t be standalone smartglasses, either, but they will do what Watch cannot. Augment reality.
Here’s where I see this going. Just as Watch saved the nascent smartwatch industry, Apple Glasses will define augmented reality with glasses that look and feel just like fashionable glasses which also are fully utilitarian. They’re fashionable but they help you see.
Does that make sense?
Snap has all the pieces correct sans the augmented reality which is where the future really is. With Snap’s spectacles you have to press a button on the glasses to take a 10-second video recording. How quaint. A button.
The little circles in the upper corners of Spectacles are lights that revolve while the video recording is in progress. That’s to let people know you’re taking a video with your glasses. Spectacles also take the video snaps and upload them to Snapchat. And, like Apple’s own AirPods, the Snap Spectacles charge inside a colorful case.
Can you see where this is going?
Snap’s Spectacles make video recording through a pair of glasses at least acceptable and far less ominous than Google’s Glass did, and it’s that fashion statement which sets the stage for Apple Glasses.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has alluded to augmented reality (AR) many times in the past year or two, and that’s a signal to get ready Apple Watchers because an event is on the horizon. What can we expect from Apple? Look at the company’s recent history. Everything is a remix, yes, but Apple has a pattern. iPod was a Mac accessory. iPhone took over where iPod was weak; a phone that did everything like a Mac in your pocket. For Apple, it isn’t so much that everything is a remix as much as everything must work together.
How will Glasses work with Apple products? First, it will be an accessory to iPhone. Just like Watch. I expect Watch to have controls for Glasses (as well as iPhone app that controls Glasses), but more importantly, Apple’s newest wearable will have augmented reality controls as well as alerts and notifications that will display on the Glasses lenses. Will Glasses be fashionable? Of course. Spectacles comes in three colors; black, red, and teal; essentially fashionable sunglasses.
Second, Glasses will be fashionable, too, and we have Watch as the example in case styles and bands. What we may not see in the first Apple Glasses version are prescription lenses, but rest assured those will come. They must. What about the price tag? Google’s Glass was $1,500 and initially aimed only at developers. Spectacles are a penny shy of $130. My expectation for Apple Glasses remains Watch-like with low-end, mid-range, and high-end versions; all with a built-in camera and recording capability, but with notable differences for each tiered version.
They say that pioneers find the land while the settlers end up owning the land. That’s how Apple works. Augmented reality is a reality. So are smartglasses. The only piece to the puzzle is how Apple Glasses will work and be differentiated from the early pioneers and how long it takes Apple to settle in and own all the land.