Apple CEO Tim Cook is a big fan of augmented reality, even more so than the arguably more popular virtual reality technology, the mobile version of which has great potential to become mainstream.
But he believes AR is the way to go. As such, it could be the next highlight of iPhone and other Apple mobile devices going forward. Though the company has invested significantly in the tech, Apple is still unsure about its proper implementation.
As a result, a new report says that Apple is presently testing various kinds of augmented reality glasses, with different internal teams competing with their own prototypes of what Apple's AR hardware could be.
As Financial Times reports, citing people privy to the matter, AR glasses have become "a particular area of experimentation" at Apple. So it's currently looking into different glasses with varying sets of functionality.
The Types Of Augmented Reality Glasses Apple Is Experimenting With
One such pair of glasses use an integrated display to merge the surroundings with a virtual one while other approaches mimic the Samsung Gear VR, which uses a compatible Galaxy smartphone to act as the virtual reality display.
The report further notes that one team of engineers have pushed for a prototype featuring 3D cameras but lacking a screen, instead using the iPhone to stand in for the display. Should Apple end up going with this approach, it won't be much of a surprise, since modern iPhones already have advanced sensors and the necessary specs to support ARKit apps in iOS 11.
What Tim Cook Thinks Of Augmented Reality
For such a secretive company, Cook has certainly failed to hide his admiration for AR. Its impact will be "big and profound," he said during a conference call with analyst as Apple posted its quarterly results. "This is one of those things that we'll look back at and marvel on the start of it."
With that in mind, it's possible AR will be one of the iPhone 8's marquee features, apart from the rumored bezel-less OLED display and a fingerprint scanner under the screen. Reports suggest the iPhone 8 will feature a wholly radical design from previous models, an apt shift in design for the device's 10th anniversary.
On the other end of the spectrum, Google already has put together an augmented reality platform called Tango, which a couple of smartphones currently support. It's nowhere near mainstream territory, sure, but it would be interesting to see that once Apple launches its AR platform and hardware, Google can pull something in its sleeves to compete with the Cupertino, California-based firm.
Whether AR is the next big thing in smartphone trends remains a question — mobile VR has barely gotten its foot through the door. It seems, as always, time will tell.