Between acquisitions, hirings, patent applications, and insider reports, all signs point to Apple building a smartglasses product that could ship as soon as 2020, but the company has not officially confirmed such plans.
Apple currently has 21 open positions that mention augmented reality, but two positions in particular heavily imply that the company is feverishly at work on an AR headset.
Apple is currently seeking a 3D UI frameworks engineer to join its Technology Development Group, the team that supports augmented and virtual reality technologies, namely ARKit and Metal 2. Qualified candidates should have five years of experience in software development, familiarity with "developer-facing frameworks or libraries" and "latency-critical, interactive, UI software," and...a certain set of skills.
"You will work with some of Apple's most advanced technologies including the Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) support offered in ARKit and Metal 2," the listing states. "Work closely with human interface designers and internal clients to define and deliver the foundation for the next paradigm of user interfaces and entirely new interaction models."
Reading between the lines, this job description alludes to on-going work on Apple smartglasses. While the engineer would work primarily with the existing products, "internal clients" is corporate-speak for other departments within the company, which could include the hardware and software teams working on smartglasses, such as product design. Furthermore, ARKit is based on the established interfaces and models, whereas smartglasses command new methods of interaction, such as eye tracking, hand gestures, and even brain control.
Speaking of product design, another listing for a program manager that appears to reference the as-of-yet-unannounced product without mentioning augmented reality.
"Mac… iPod… iPhone… iPad…[Apple] WATCH… what's next? In this role, you will join a team of talented Engineering Program Managers specializing in managing, prioritizing and executing day-to-day activities to meet the overall program objectives of the Product Design team responsible for the next new product category at Apple," the listing states.
I doubt they are talking about a toaster. But the HomePod must feel left out of the roll call.
The remaining positions appear to be related more directly to ARKit development. Seven of them refer to new or upcoming products, or "ground-breaking new products" in the case of the AR/VR software engineer, but that could refer to future iPhones. (A listing for product architect at Apple Maps mentions augmented reality among innovative technologies in digital mapping, but let's not go down that rabbit hole just yet.
The conclusion to all of this is that augmented reality is a growing segment of Apple's business that needs talented developers and operations personnel. If you're looking to work in AR, there are certainly opportunities in Cupertino.
As far as smartglasses go, a pair designed by Apple in California is likely to arrive later rather than sooner, so there's plenty of work ahead.