With Apple's launch of its $3,500 Apple Vision Pro, you would think that price would leave a lot of room open for competition. However, outside of Meta, one company has chosen to toss its AR/VR device plans in the trash, focus more on AR/VR operating systems, and possibly leave the actual glasses to other makers.
According to a report in 9to5Mac, and based on an initial article in Business Insider, Google canceled its Google Iris project, which was going to be the company's second foray into the AR/VR glass market. Many remember the 2013 launch of Google Glass and its failure to capture mass appeal. With this in mind and Apple launching the most expensive developer project AR/VR goggles in history, Google seems to think another attempt now would be a mistake.
Instead, Google's choice to focus on an OS could be the best approach and act similarly in some ways to the company's popular Wear OS, which several makers use in smartwatches.
What to expect going forward
The second iteration of Google Glass was first reported in 2022, with no clear vision of the next-gen glasses or form they may have taken. However, it would stick with Google's attempt for its AR/VR design to be much like mainstream daily wear glasses. We knew the project was Google Iris, and it has been in the making since sometime in 2021.
Then came rumblings that there were internal battles during development, leading to frustration and teams having to switch things up numerous times. This was followed by layoffs and team reshuffling, which all seem to have combined to doom the Iris project.
However, according to Business Insider, it's not that Google completely abandoned AR/VR headsets; they've just decided to change the approach and focus more on designing an operating system like Wear OS that they could then license to manufacturers and collect sizable fees, á la what Microsoft does with Windows.
The Apple Vision Pro effect
Google decided to stop working on its very own AR/VR glasses only partially because of the Apple Vision Pro launch, which everyone knew was coming. It seems there were many long-standing issues with bringing a Google Glass successor to market.
However, let's be honest; Apple Vision Pro is more of a developer's kit that Apple released while it was still working on its long-rumored Apple Glasses, which according to Apple supply chain analyst Ming-Chi-Kuo, we may see some time in 2026 or 2027. Reportedly they will be more affordable and genuinely marketed to the masses and probably be priced closer to a MacBook Pro than a used car.
This could be a great decision by Google to create the OS and app store and then let others take up the cost of designing, building, and marketing a pair of AR/VR glasses. Who knows, in a couple of years, Google Android-powered AR/VR glasses could be everywhere.
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Mark has spent 20 years headlining comedy shows around the country and made appearances on ABC, MTV, Comedy Central, Howard Stern, Food Network, and Sirius XM Radio. He has written about every topic imaginable, from dating, family, politics, social issues, and tech. He wrote his first tech articles for the now-defunct Dads On Tech 10 years ago, and his passion for combining humor and tech has grown under the tutelage of the Laptop Mag team. His penchant for tearing things down and rebuilding them did not make Mark popular at home, however, when he got his hands on the legendary Commodore 64, his passion for all things tech deepened. These days, when he is not filming, editing footage, tinkering with cameras and laptops, or on stage, he can be found at his desk snacking, writing about everything tech, new jokes, or scripts he dreams of filming.