Sitting in the hot California sun, slowly melting in my spare wooden folding chair as I listened to Apple’s WWDC 2022 keynote, I thought, “This will all be worth it when Tim Cook wears these sweet, sweet Apple Glasses.”
But he never did. Apple CEO and his various execs who walked us through all the new iOS 16, iPadOS 16, watchOS 9, macOS Venture, sOS updates (oh wait, I made that up) didn’t reveal or tease Apple’s augmented or mixed reality glasses.
They didn’t introduce the realityOS platform rumor. The glasses and any code that could support them was a complete no-show. I don’t think there was a single significant mention of AR or VR.
Do not misunderstand me. I enjoyed the WWDC 2022 keynote. It was a veritable barracks of information that we are all still sorting through.
Many of the rumors like new lock and notification screens in iOS 16 and the mighty M2 and new MacBook Air have come true. Of course, they did, right? Rumors were so strong and widespread that his arrival was almost predicted.
There have, however, been at least as many rumors about Apple’s mixed reality headset. Or are they two headphones? There are solid rumors about glasses-like glasses that will give you amazing mixed reality views of your world.
There is also talk of more immersive helmets that, a la Meta Quest, would offer outside-in VR experiences that allow you to be aware of the outside world, but mostly living in virtual reality bliss.
Don’t believe the hype
In the run-up to WWDC, rumors of some sort of impending AR/VR announcement from Apple got louder.
just this week, The New York Times newspaper published an extensive article full of “people in the know” that seemed to indicate that we could smell Apple Glass at WWDC.
To be clear, the story never came out and said that we would see a headset or even a development platform to support it, but the ads were supposed to offer potential app support for the future headset.
I know I went into the talk believing that while we wouldn’t see a functional or playable headset, Cook would reveal the realityOS development platform to give programmers a long way to prepare for hardware.
I expected a real sizzling Apple Glass with a Tim Cook himself holding the goggle-like frames at the end of his talk.
Leaving aside the rumors that had led me down this garden path, I paid close attention to Cook’s own words. During a 2018 results call, Cook said“I see AR as being profound.”
Three years later he said AR is critically important to Apple’s future.
I don’t think that’s changed and no one doubts that Apple is hard at work on AR and VR hardware. So what happened?
Some industry observers I spoke to believe that the entire Apple Glass and/or realityOS section was dropped from the talk at the last minute. People said similar things when the glasses didn’t show up at Apple’s spring event, where it showcased its new silicon and Mac Studio.
This notion, however, paints Apple as capricious and even uncertain. The Apple I know is methodical and organizes every experience, whether it’s a product you own or an event you’re hosting.
The WWDC 2022 keynote wasn’t even a live performance. After appearing briefly on stage to welcome the crowd, Cook came downstairs and a pre-recorded video of over 90 minutes took over. How do you make last minute changes to a presentation like this?
Still, I can’t shake the disappointment I feel at the lack of one more thing, that brilliant moment that elevates one Apple event above all others.
Apple can still talk privately with developers about realityOS and Apple Glass (WWDC lasts for the week), but the opportunity to excite consumers (or businesses) is gone for another year.
I don’t see Apple introducing a new platform mid-year, and definitely not outside of a developer event. After all, Apple Glass can’t win without killer apps and content. The New York Times says Apple is talking to people like director Jon Favreau about bringing eye-popping content to Apple Glass, but none of that will work without the apps and interfaces to support it.
For that you need developers and for developers you need WWDC. I think we’ll have to wait until WWDC 2023.