Did Apple hold a large internal meeting for 1,000+ employees on Apple’s plans for Augmented Reality (AR) headsets and glasses ? Nope. I’ve worked at Apple, and Apple just doesn’t work like that.
According to a Nov 11, 2019 MacRumors report titled Apple Said to Release AR Headset With 3D Scanning in 2022, Followed by Sleeker Glasses in 2023 on a story in The Information:
Apple currently aims to release an augmented reality headset in 2022, followed by a “sleeker” pair of augmented reality glasses by 2023, according to The Information. The report claims the timeline was shared by Apple executives in an internal presentation to employees at Apple Park in October.
Interestingly, the meeting is said to have been large enough to fill the 1,000-plus seats at Steve Jobs Theater, suggesting that Apple may have a large team working on the project. The report claims the discussions were led by Apple’s recently appointed AR/VR head Mike Rockwell, a former Dolby executive.
Apple Is Definitely Working on AR Hardware
I’m certain that Apple is working on AR headset and glasses tech. Just look at all the AR and VR work they’ve released and time they spent talking about it at keynotes, product demos, WWDC, etc. All this OS software support for AR and VR is definitely headed towards hardware products. Even Tim Cook has been talking about AR for a while now, starting back in 2017.
And there’s also a lot of tech that could be used in AR hardware later on. Software tech that’s already been shipped, like the Metal graphics engine, Sidecar’s wireless display tech, depth sensing tech used in the TrueDepth camera and more.
That still doesn’t mean Apple will actually release a product here. Apple researches and experiments a ton, and doesn’t release anything. But with this – AR hardware – it just fits Apple really well. Tech that’s really really hard to get right, and many others have tried and failed. Remember Glass-Holes ? Small, personal, wearable tech, that could have a huge impact for somebody that gets it right.
That sounds like Apple.
But, holding a huge internal meeting like that, just doesn’t make sense, in a number of ways. THAT – does NOT sound like Apple to me.
That’s Not How Apple Does Things
I worked at Apple in 2014 and 2015 in the Apple Online Store (AOS) engineering group. During that time Apple announced and shipped the Apple Watch and the iPhone 6.
The Apple Online Store (AOS) teams are obviously critical to the release of all products. The engineering systems we built not only power some of the largest e-commerce volume in the history of the known universe, they also power the shopping volume from all of Apple’s retail stores too. The AOS is custom engineered for every single Apple product. Which is one of the reasons why AOS goes down for updates immediately before almost every new product goes on sale for pre-orders or purchase. So we have to be involved in every product development cycle.
Apple is super infamous for their secrecy, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that there are very very strict procedures around everything we did. And Apple’s “police force” known as Apple Global Security is integral to all of that secrecy.
The way it works is that secrecy is kept extremely, obsessively, insanely tight when a new product is being worked on, before it’s public announcement, and even after that and before it ships. We called it a “Black” project. Every project, black or not, had a codename. And anyone involved in any Black project had to be approved before they can hear anything about it. We called it being “Disclosed”.
History of Secrecy – Project Purple
Apple has a clearly documented history on its secrecy. And any responsible reporter, writer or analyst of anything Apple should be schooled in it. It’s also really interesting for Apple fans. And probably should be required learning for everyone in the tech business.
Recall the well established stories surrounding the development of the iPhone from 2004 to 2007 when it was announced and shipped. Codenamed Project Purple. Two different development teams, one staffed by iPod team members, the other by Mac team members. Locked away in highly secure windowless rooms. Competing fiercely against each other. Keeping their work secret from each other. And secret from everyone else at Apple.
Do the research:
- Google search of Project Purple Apple
- The Secret Origin Story of the iPhone – The Verge, 2017
- The One Device: The secret history of the iPhone – the book
- “Project Purple” and the pre-history of the iPhone – Rene Ritchie, iMore, 2012
- 4 Real Secrets We’ve Learned So Far About Apple – Internet archive of readwriteweb.com article, 2012
Has Apple Changed That Much ?
Certainly Apple has been opening up in recent years. But has Apple loosened up its stance on secrecy so much so, that they would hold an internal meeting with over 1,000 employees on AR hardware – something on the scale of iPhone, Apple Watch, the rumored Apple Car ?
Why a Meeting Like This Makes No Sense
But here’s why a meeting like this makes no sense, in spite of that opening up.
- People working on a Black project don’t need a meeting like this. Nobody that’s disclosed would need a meeting like this one, because they’re heads down creating stuff. And they already know what’s going on. They don’t need a huge meeting to tell them about product features and timelines.
- 1,000 people in a meeting is on the scale of an internal announcement to employees not working on the product. AR hardware isn’t far along enough for that.
Maybe this was just a high level briefing of a handful of executives. Maybe it never happened. Either way, the reporters still got this WAY WRONG. And making it worse, this is yet another wrong story rippling through the news ecosystem. More sites and news outlets have picked this up already.
Please Learn About Apple BEFORE You Write Something
Perhaps this is just another case of reports, journalists and analyses not understanding how Apple does things. Please – PLEASE – learn already !!! You have a responsibility to the public, your customers and to your profession, to get it right.
It’s not impossible to learn how Apple works. There are decades of public details on it in articles, books, documentaries and movies. It just takes some work. And perhaps that’s the real problem.
Some of these “professionals” just don’t want to work that hard. They just want the clicks.