Apple has been continuously iterating on ARKit, its augmented reality development tool that lets creators make smartphone-based AR experiences. The company unveiled ARKit at its World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) in 2017, and the 2.0 version at the dev conference a year later. Now, a report from 9to5Mac holds that this year’s WWDC could see yet more new additions, including OS support for stereo AR headsets.

Citing sources familiar with the development of Apple’s new operating systems, the report maintains that ARKit will get a new Swift-only framework for AR and a companion app that lets developers create AR experiences visually. ARKit will also reportedly get the ability to detect human poses.

One of the biggest claims to come from the report is the supposed announcement surrounding OS support for controllers with touchpads as well as “stereo AR headsets.”

As with all unconfirmed reports, we’re taking this with a big grain of salt. However it’s hardly conceivable that Apple would open their software ecosystem to third-party devices, so it definitely raises the question of whether we’re close to a bonafide Apple AR headset tease or not.

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In any case, there’s been several reports of an Apple AR headset in the making. Chi Kuo, someone Business Insider called “the most accurate Apple analyst in the world,” offered up his prediction for the fabled device last month, stating that Apple will likely begin production of its AR headset sometime between Q4 of 2019 and Q2 of 2020. Furthermore, it’s been reported that the upcoming Apple headset could rely on the iPhone for computing, rendering, internet connectivity and location services.

This comes as stark contrast to one of the earliest reports we’ve seen, from late 2017, by Bloomberg which posited an Apple AR headset would be a dedicated, standalone device, also slated for a 2020 release.

Whatever the case, we’ll have our eyes peeled from June 3rd to 7th when the hardcore Apple dev community descends upon San Jose, California for this year’s WWDC.

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  • lairdp

    “OS support for stereo AR headsets” might not mean Apple launching an AR headset device – it could also mean a headset that holds an iPhone, like the Google Cardboard, or it could mean a third-party head mounted display powered by an iPhone. There is plenty of precedent for Apple supporting third party displays, and Apple could well decide that they only want to sell the unique part, the phone, and let third parties sell displays and controllers, as they do with MacOS.

    • dk

      ooor it has support for it …and the next 3 years will be a shiny tiny accessory with great profit margin like the apple watch ….and it will be identical to google glass

      ….releasing a headset as a dev kit maybe ….but a consumer product that will drain your phone battery in 2-3 yours and is not that great to use and interact with and only ar enthusiast will appreciate ….I doubt it

  • chuan_l

    Apple just copy other people’s work —
    The same thing happened with ” light estimation “. Made worse by the fact that they don’t contribute back to open source :
    [ https://github.com/ZheC/Realtime_Multi-Person_Pose_Estimation ]

  • MW

    Apple can do one thing- sell products. That’s the only one thing they know how to do. Good looking design, great marketing techniques. That’s what Apple does. Development of new technology? This corporate monster just cannot do it.

    • Well, this can help the XR market to grow. The only problem is that all magazines will have the headline “Apple has invented AR”

      • CS

        I’m sure they will have invented some aspects of AR that may bring it to mass market. They certainly didn’t invent touch screen displays or smartphones, but are still credited with designing the modern smartphone.

    • CS

      They are well suited actually since they design their own chips. They also acquired an AR display maker and likely have more people working on this in secret then anyone else.

  • I’m very curious about future Apple’s moves. I am especially curious about if they will release now or if will wait the tech to be more ready for mainstream adoption

    • CS

      I doubt hardware will be this year, but developer beta support for third party headsets seems likely.

  • CS

    I wouldn’t say hardly conceivable for the Mac, just for iOS. Apple already supports HTC Vive on the Mac (also introduced at a previous wwdc) and includes support for it in Final Cut Pro. I think it is likely third party hardware will be supported for AR apps on the Mac side. Potentially this may allow running iOS apps through the Mac when Apple releases a headset with their new UWP-like cross platform apps. This would also allow developers to start working on their AR apps prior to a potential launch next year.