A flurry of new job listings for Apple’s secretive ‘Technology Development Group’ suggests that the company has reached a new phase of turning its years of AR/VR R&D into actual upcoming products. Two of the most intriguing among the new job listings are the roles of ‘AR/VR Demo Evangelist’ and ‘Product Manager, AR/VR’.
It’s no secret that Apple has been doing lots of R&D in the AR and VR space for years now. The company was seeking candidates with relevant experience at least as far back as 2014, and has been actively building up AR functionality in its iOS products. However, Apple only barely dipped its toe into VR, but in recent years has become publicly silent on the subject.
Something interesting about the company’s latest hiring activity is that it’s now specifically looking for roles headlined with ‘AR/VR’, where previous listings generally only mentioned AR up front. It’s difficult to say if the change marks a meaningful difference in what the company is working toward, or the progress therein, but some of the listings themselves offer significant clues.
With most activity coming in just the last week, the company listed at least 11 new jobs for ‘AR/VR’ headlined roles specifically (while heaps more indicate a requirement or preference for AR and VR experience deeper in the job listing):
|AR/VR Graphics Engineer||May 3, 2019|
|AR/VR System UI Engineer||Jun 17, 2019|
|AR/VR Software Engineer||Jun 19, 2019|
|AR/VR Realtime 3D Software Engineer||Jul 2, 2019|
|AR/VR System Frameworks Engineer||Jul 23, 2019|
|Senior Embedded AR/VR Quality Engineer||Jul 24, 2019|
|AR/VR Software Tools Developer||Jul 24, 2019|
|AR/VR Demo Evangelist||Jul 24, 2019|
|Embedded AR/VR Quality Engineer||Jul 24, 2019|
|AR/VR System Software Engineer||Jul 24, 2019|
|Product Manager, AR/VR||Aug 1, 2019|
One of the most notable roles is the ‘AR/VR Demo Evangelist’, which is tasked with literally giving internal AR/VR demos at the company, as well as engaging in user research and generally introducing and inspiring the broader Apple team (including executives) with exciting tech demos.
The AR/VR Demo Evangelist will execute project demos, user research investigations, and cross functional lab efforts.
In this role, you will be responsible for facilitating state of the art demos to a large range of audiences. You will partner with applications and product design teams to drive various internal user research studies, while supporting multi- functional lab and competitive analysis efforts. Working with highly specialized engineers and PM’s.
This most likely means one of two things: 1) Apple’s AR/VR R&D has moved into the productization stage, so the company now needs someone internally to start showing the rest of the company what the new tech can do and how to start thinking about it & building for it. Or 2), Apple just wants someone who can take off the shelf AR/VR hardware and content and start showing it around the company to generally familiarize the broader Apple team with the potential of AR/VR. It’s difficult to say, but another job listing makes #1 seem most likely.
The ‘Product Manager, AR/VR’ listing is significant because the Product Manager role typically describes someone which oversees the processes of turning R&D into an actual product offering. A Product Manager, for instance, might decide what features and specs are or aren’t important for the product, what the product should look like, what kind of customer it’s for, and create a roadmap for actually getting the product to market.
Update (August 5, 2019): The ‘Product Manager, AR/VR’ job listing page was removed shortly after this article was published, possibly because the position quickly filled, but perhaps more likely because Apple didn’t like how much information the listing revealed.
Indeed, Apple’s listing says it’s looking for a candidate with “a track record for shipping complex new technology, ideally in the AR/VR space” who will be tasked with “creat[ing] and lead[ing] the product roadmap for the subject portfolio,” with these qualifications, among others:
- 5+ years experience in Product Management of consumer facing digital products, or, 3+ years Product Management experience in AR/VR technology with consumer facing experiences.
- A deep understanding of the Apple ecosystem and the AR/VR market, technologies and applications.
Of course this calls into question recent rumors that Apple suspended work on its consumer AR headset. If those rumors are actually true, it’s quite possible that (with all of the R&D Apple has been doing in this space) that the ‘cancellation’ was actually Apple eliminating one or more internal ventures in favor of bringing another to market. Other reports indicate that Apple may be targeting its first headset product for 2020.