If the rumors prove true, Apple is hard at work on building an augmented reality (AR) headset for release sometime in 2022—but the company isn’t interested in constructing a full-fledged “metaverse” where people spend most of their day.
“I’ve been told pretty directly that the idea of a completely virtual world where users can escape to—like they can in Meta Platforms/Facebook’s vision of the future—is off limits from Apple,” Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman wrote in a recent newsletter, as excerpted by 9to5Mac.
In other words, Apple reportedly envisions users engaging with the headset for relatively short periods, whether to play games to communicate with others. That’s in stark contrast to the “metaverse” strategy proposed by Meta (formerly Facebook), which will want users to wear headsets for many hours at a time.
In pursuit of those different visions, Apple and Meta have engaged in a war for talent, with Meta reportedly poaching around 100 engineers from Apple over the past few months, and Apple returning the favor by luring some key specialists away. Another recent Bloomberg story suggested that Apple is paying vital engineers “unusual and significant stock bonuses” worth anywhere from $50,000 to $180,000.
Whatever Apple’s future plans for AR, they likely center on ARKit and RealityKit, which provide the tools necessary to build AR experiences on top of iOS. If and when Apple rolls out a headset, AR app designers will probably be best served if they think of their product in the context of shorter experiences—quick games, for example, are more likely to sail through the app-review process.
If the prospect of developing for the “metaverse” appeals to you, you’ll want to review the documentation and SDK for the Oculus platform, which is Facebook’s VR hardware/software ecosystem. Although the market for AR- and VR-related jobs is small right now, these positions are expected to grow significantly over the next 10 years—a percentage that could rise even higher if tech companies start pouring more billions into VR and AR initiatives.