Apple Experimenting With Several Augmented Reality Glasses Prototypes

Apple is working on "several different kinds" of wearable augmented reality prototypes as it tries to figure out the "most compelling application" for an AR headset, reports Financial Times.

Citing sources with knowledge of Apple's plans, Financial Times says at least one group within Apple is pushing for a pair of glasses that feature 3D camera but no screens, making the iPhone the main display, similar to Snap's Spectacles, but no final design decisions have been made.

Snap's camera-equipped screen-free Spectacles

Rumors of Apple's work on AR smart glasses first surfaced in 2016, and previous rumors have suggested the glasses will connect wirelessly to the iPhone, much like the Apple Watch, and will display "images and other information to the wearer."

While Robert Scoble suggested Apple could launch the smart glasses this year through a partnership with Carl Zeiss, most rumors (like today's) suggest Apple is still in a prototyping phase and that a launch is still a ways off.

Earlier this year, Financial Times said Apple was "stepping up" development on an augmented reality wearable, but a potential launch is at least a year away or longer. Bloomberg has predicted a similar timeline, suggesting Apple is perhaps aiming to launch a product in 2018.

As Apple works on AR smart glasses, the company is preparing to make its first major move into augmented reality with the launch of iOS 11 and ARKit, a set of APIs designed to allow developers to build powerful augmented reality experiences into apps and games. When ARKit launches, the iPhone and the iPad will become the largest augmented reality platform in the world given the large number of devices already out in the wild.

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Over the course of the past several months, Apple CEO Tim Cook has talked about Apple's work on augmented reality several times. Just this past week, he called it "big and profound" and said he "could not be more excited" about AR and what developers are creating with ARKit.

"This is one of those huge things that we'll look back and marvel at the start of it," he said.

Related Roundup: Apple VR Project
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Apple Considered Buying Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment, but Talks ‘Fizzled Out’

Another rumor of Apple's interest in acquiring a company involved in film and television has come to light today, with Financial Times reporting that the Cupertino company was in talks to acquire production company Imagine Entertainment, co-founded by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer. The deal is said to have gotten "serious enough" to include Apple CEO Tim Cook and senior vice president Eddy Cue, but discussions ultimately "fizzled out" for unknown reasons.

Those knowledgable about the deal said that possibilities ranged from a "first look" distribution strategy granted to Apple for movies and television shows released by Imagine all the way to an investment or even an outright purchase by Apple. Imagine is a company behind a number of well-known films, including all three entries in The Da Vinci Code series, Apollo 13, and the upcoming adaptation of The Dark Tower. Some of its production in the TV space includes shows like Empire, 24, and Parenthood.

Ron Howard and Brian Grazer of Imagine Entertainment

According to Financial Times, Apple's current approach to original video content "has many in Hollywood scratching their heads."
This approach has many in Hollywood scratching their heads. Appleā€™s rounds of meetings with various entertainment industry players suggest it has not yet decided what its strategy should be.

The iPhone maker has been stalking Hollywood for more than a year, talking to leading industry players while it tries to formulate a cogent video strategy. It has considered a range of acquisitions and targets including, most recently, Imagine Entertainment, the Hollywood production company owned by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, according to several people briefed on the discussions.
Imagine is said to have recently faced the end of a long-term production and distribution deal with Universal Pictures, which is when Apple is believed to have considered entering into a first look deal with the company. The new Imagine rumor marks another bump in the road for Apple's trip around Hollywood, following reports that the company considered buying Time Warner last year. Later in the year, people familiar with Apple's acquisition strategy said it was "not interested" in acquiring Time Warner at the time.

Today's news follows a Bloomberg report from yesterday that underscored Apple's "arrogance" in mergers and acquisitions, where it's reported to use shrewd business tactics and non-traditional strategies in its attempts to acquire new companies. These tactics work mostly for Apple's smaller acquisitions, according to some analysts, but impede its success at acquiring larger companies, although it is unclear how seriously Apple has pursued any such large targets.


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