Here we go with Part 3 of my WWDC Preview. You can check out Part 1 on the iPad and Part 2 on the Apple Watch here. Now it’s time for something completely different. How about Apple worst kept secret since they started working on a car: AR Glasses.
The prevailing opinion since early word came that Apple is working on AR Glasses is that is would be a few years before they made it to market. However, back in March, noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reported that manufacturing would actually ramp up in late 2019 for a 2020 release. That is up to a year earlier than most expected before his report.
The reason Apple’s hardware will be ready earlier than initially expected is because it will be completely dependent on the iPhone. This is familiar territory for Apple, as this is exactly how the Apple Watch works now. Apple has had four years to perfect how the two devices work together and has perfected the process. If you read my last article, you know I am all-in on the Apple Watch becoming a completely independent device within the next two years. However, being paired with the iPhone was a great way to roll it out and should work similarly well for AR Glasses.
So what does this have to do with WWDC? Apple will almost certainly announce their AR Glasses well in advance of release. While it could be argued that this marketing approach didn’t work well for the HomePod and really didn’t work well for the AirPower, I still think its the route Apple will take. Going back to the original iPhone announcement, the company has always previewed its big new device releases a few months in advance of gaining regulatory approvals.
Now the question is when. Is this year’s WWDC the right time to give developers a preview of what’s coming? It really comes down to Apple’s timeline and priorities. If they want to get developers lined up behind a coming piece of hardware, this would be the time to do it. According to Kuo, the glasses will either be released or close to it when the next WWDC rolls around, so that will be a little late to rally support for writing new apps for a brand new hardware platform. However, if the timeline could slip, then this year’s iPhone/iPad release window might work better.
The possibility of a “one more thing” involving AR Glasses is enough for me to write about this. I’m not calling this as happening. In fact, I would put the odds somewhere in the 25% range. However, hearing about truly new Apple hardware is enough to get excited about, even at those odds.