Apple reportedly has partnered with US game developer Valve to develop AR head-mounted display devices, which may be released in the second half of 2020 at the earliest, with Taiwan’s ODMs Quanta Computer and Pegatron said to handle the assembly job, according to industry sources.
Creator of the popular Steam digital storefront and delivery platform, Valve launched Steam machine consoles in 2015 and released its first VR headset, Valve Index, in April 2019. However, Apple’s partnership with the company is said to be focused on AR, not VR.
Apple will cooperate with Valve on AR headsets rather than VR devices, as its CEO Tim Cook believes that AR can make digital content become part of the user’s world and will be as popular as smartphones with consumers. This has also promoted Apple to step up the development of AR software by recruiting more engineers for graphic design, system interface and system architecture segments.
Just last month, respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Apple was cooperating with third-party brands to launch its first head-mounted AR product in 2020.
Back in July, DigiTimes reported that Apple had temporarily stopped developing AR/VR headsets and that the team working on them was disbanded in May and reassigned to other product developments.
However, according to the latest information from DigiTimes‘ sources, Apple was actually in the process of shifting from in-house development to collaborative development with Valve.
Code found in Xcode 11 and iOS 13 as recently as September confirmed that Apple is still working on an augmented reality headset of some kind. Within the internal Find My app bundle that MacRumors exclusively shared, there is also an icon depicting what appears to be an AR or VR headset that looks similar to the Google Cardboard.
Apple’s AR headset is rumored to enter mass production as soon as the fourth quarter of this year in time for an early 2020 launch, according to Kuo.
Kuo has said Apple’s glasses would be marketed as an iPhone accessory and primarily take a display role while wirelessly offloading computing, networking, and positioning to the iPhone.
In November 2017, Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman reported that Apple’s headset would run a custom iOS-based operating system dubbed “rOS” for “reality operating system.” Apple originally aimed to have it ready by 2019, but the company was relaxed about not shipping a product until 2020. At the time, Gurman said Apple had not finalized how users would control the headset, but possibilities included touchscreens, Siri voice activation, and head gestures.
Quanta Computer and Pegatron are said to be handling the manufacturing and assembly job for Apple’s long-rumored AR product. Quanta can reportedly produce AR headsets at a lower cost by leveraging camera lens technology licensed by Lumus, according to today’s report.
DigiTimes‘ sources often provide reliable information, but the site has a mixed track record when it comes to interpreting that information and accurately deciphering Apple’s plans, so treat this report with the necessary degree of skepticism for now until we can corroborate it from other sources.