Augmented reality enthusiasts who expected an AR hardware unveiling at Apple's annual iPhone launch event might not have to wait much longer.
On Wednesday, noted TF Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo published a report that Apple's 2020 hardware lineup will include an iPad Pro with a rear-mounted time of flight sensor and the debut of the company's long-rumored and eagerly-awaited AR headset.
Kuo writes that Apple will unveil its AR headset in the second quarter of 2020, which would coincide with the company's timeframe for the Worldwide Developers Conference. The note from the analyst was surfaced by CNBC, which cited the Chinese-language news site MyDrivers. According to the report, the company will partner with third-party brands to produce the AR headset, which is expected to begin production by the fourth quarter of 2020.
Ahead of the AR wearable, Apple will reportedly release an iPad Pro with a depth sensor in the first quarter of 2020.
The report is the latest evolution of two anticipated hardware developments that have made the rounds of the past few years.
Previous reports pegged the arrival of depth sensors on the rear camera for iPhones this year.
The new depth camera would give the iPad Pro world mapping capabilities akin to what the TrueDepth camera on the iPhone X and 11 series devices provide for the front-facing camera. Likewise, the sensor's debut on an iPad, as opposed to an iPhone, would give users a larger canvas for AR experiences.
But the arrival of Apple's AR wearable, whether it is a head-mounted display or smartglasses variety, has gestated for some time, with rumors fueled by Apple's AR patent applications, the assembly of its internal AR team, and company acquisitions.
With its ARKit platform now in its third generation, Apple has already laid the foundation for AR software. Moreover, with the TrueDepth camera and the U1 chip for spatial awareness, Apple has established a testing ground for its dedicated AR hardware with its existing mobile ecosystem.
The consensus among analyst reports, including previous notes from Kuo, have estimated that the AR device will arrive in 2020. But now, 2020 is much closer, which, if the reports are true, will likely put pressure on Apple CEO Tim Cook and his team to deliver — big.
Cover concept image via Taeyeon Kim/Behance