Apple AR glasses rumors: What you need to know

We’ve heard rumors that Apple is working on some kind of augmented reality headset for years now, and those rumors have started building steam. Certain builds of iOS 13 are packed with references to what looks like AR headsets, either in the form of glasses or a face-mounted display like the Google Daydream (or both).

The most credible rumors suggest we may see whatever Apple’s been working on within a matter of months, and so we’ve compiled those reports in one handy spot so you’ll know what to expect.

Apple’s AR glasses may appear in 2020

On October 19, Bloomberg released a report claiming that Apple had “targeted” 2020 for the release of its AR headset, although no specifics about the date were given beyond that. This suggests Apple is on track with the project, as Bloomberg claimed we could see the headset in 2020 all the way back in 2017.

Well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo was more specific about the timing, as he claimed we’d likely see Apple’s AR glasses sometime in the second quarter of 2020, echoing a similar prediction of his from March.

Code in iOS 13 and Xcode 11 strongly suggests the existence of an AR headset

In early September, MacRumors revealed that a leaked internal build of iOS 13 comes with a “STARTester” app that allows a developer to use an iPhone to see how an app might look with a handheld and head-mounted display for testing an augmented reality headset. In late September, a developer on Twitter named xSnow managed to get STARTester to work.

Elsewhere, a readme file in iOS 13 refers to a “StarBoard” system shell for apps that support stereo AR. iOS 13’s code refers to “StarBoard” mode in other spots, with some such as “ARStarBoardViewController” and “ARStarBoardSceneManager” explicitly reference augmented reality.

Not long after that, 9to5Mac’s Guilherme Rambo posted a tweet revealing that Xcode 11 (Apple’s integrated development environment) had an ARDisplayDevice framework that included references to the headsets under development, which are codenamed Franc, Luck, and Garta (although Garta appears to be aimed at HoloKit, a third-party AR box). References to StarBoard were found in Xcode as well.

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In addition, Steve Troughton-Smith discovered that the framework for game controllers in iOS 13 has a profile for devices running stereo AR apps, which includes a trackpad, a trigger button, and a home button—suggesting Apple may make a controller for use with its AR headset.

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