It’s very clear that the smartphone revolution is slowly but surely coming to a grinding halt. Each year, phones evolve less and less, and Apple, that once shocked the world with the introduction of the first iPhone back in 2007, has made it a habit to deliver “new” phones every year that look almost exactly as the ones of the previous year.

Apple Glass Render

Apple Glass Render

But that doesn’t mean that Apple is not looking way into the future. It’s a badly kept secret that the company from Cupertino is working on their own AR experience, in the form of glasses. When talking about glasses, you probably think immediately about Google Glass.

That’s not what Apple has in mind, not by a long shot.

iDropNews is reporting that Apple is set to launch an AR device that, following the Apple tradition, will look sleek and refined, but be very powerful at the same time. They hired Martin Hajek, one of the most respected Apple concept artists, and he created these beautiful renders that should at least challenge Jony Ive, chief designer at Apple, to do better.

The key word here is AR (Augmented Reality). Augmented Reality stands for mixing virtual reality elements with the real world. We have discussed this in our Magic Leap update from a few days ago. Considering the amounts of billions that Magic Leap was able to collect in various funding rounds, it’s safe to say the industry is eagerly awaiting a revolutionary AR experience.

Apple has filled different AR and VR (Virtual Reality) related patents, such as this one. Considering the patent was filled in 2014, it’s clear that Apple has been working on an AR solution for a while.

Apple Glass Render

Apple Glass Render

But, you say, VR never made a big splash.

How many people do you know that own a VR device such as the Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR or HTC VIVE? Probably not many.

Despite all the hype a few years back, it remains a niche thing, primarily for gamers and industrial applications, and the “new” factor is all but gone. And that could lead to the idea that AR will go the same route.

Apple Glass Render

Apple Glass Render

First of all, the big difference between VR and AR is that AR combined digital information with the real world. Thus, it doesn’t cut you off from the real world. Thus it can be used all the time. Much like you check your phone several times a day, a pair of AR glasses can show you all that information, right in front of your eyes, in ultra-high resolution.

Think of the possibilities. Google Glass was only capable of showing small bits of info at the time. AR can display anything in front of you, including a jumbo size movie screen playing an Ultra HD movie. If done well, it can revolutionize the way we interact with computers and digital information, in a way that was only preceded by the introduction of PC’s back in the seventies and eighties.

Apple Glass Render

Apple Glass Render

Apple is, rightfully so, is most probably working on a device that is at the same time extremely powerful, very discrete, light, stylish and probably very, very expensive. Expect to pay several thousands of dollars for the first devices.

Also expect the first iteration of this devices, let’s call them Apple Glass, to be a companion to your iPhone, as it will need it’s processing power to render all those images in front of your eyes. But for sure, future versions will be stand-alone. I can imagine that, in order to leep the glasses themselves super light and discrete, they will always need a separated “computer”, but that could be the size of a box of matches, as increasing processing power and miniaturization will make this possible.

Apple Glass Render

Apple Glass Render

There are other players in this field, such as Magic Leap and Microsoft with their HoloLens, but Apple will certainly want to be the one to break this tech into the masses, as they did with the smartphone.

It’s true that back then they had Steve Jobs to lead the way, but today Apple has practically unlimited resources to put together a killer device, and finally be seen again as the innovator in the tech area that they ceased to be so many years ago.

According to persisting rumors, the Apple Glass device could ship as soon as 2020.