Apple said to be working with Valve on first AR headset

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Valve-Index-headset
Valve already knows how to make headsets.
Photo: Valve

Apple is reportedly partnering with Valve, the company behind Steam, to develop its first augmented reality headset. Valve already offers a virtual reality headset of its own for gaming. But its work with Apple is said to be focused on AR, which Cupertino thinks will play an increasingly important role in the future.

Apple stepped up its AR efforts with the introduction of ARKit in 2017. The framework makes it easier than ever for developers to build AR apps for iPhone and iPad. But it won’t stop there. Apple knows AR can’t take off in a big way if it remains stuck inside iOS devices. So it is rumored to be working on a brand-new wearable that will make AR more accessible. Sources say Cupertino enlisted Valve’s help to create an Apple AR headset.

Apple teams up with Valve

“Apple reportedly has partnered with US game developer Valve to develop AR head-mounted display devices, which may be released in the second half of 2020 at the earliest,” reports Digitimes. Valve launched a VR headset of its own, Valve Index, back in April. But its work with Apple is specifically on augmented reality, which overlays virtual content onto the real world. Digitimes reported in July that Apple temporarily shelved its AR headset plans, disbanding the team working on the project. The publication now claims this was actually the start of a big transition. That month, Apple’s AR project reportedly shifted from in-house development to a collaboration with Valve.

Apple’s focus on AR

No one believed at the time that Apple actually scrapped its AR headset plans. Other sources, including reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, maintained that they were alive and well. More importantly, evidence of the project popped up in iOS 13 and Xcode 11 as recently as September, all but confirming Apple’s work is ongoing. Kuo also reported in October that Apple was teaming up with third parties to bring an AR headset to market. He predicted the device could enter mass-production late this year for a 2020 launch. Rumors indicate existing Apple partners Quanta Computer and Pegatron will manufacture and assemble the device.

iPhone still required

Apple’s AR headset reportedly will rely on iPhone for things like computing, network connectivity, and location sensors. It will initially be a smartphone accessory, rather than a standalone product. This will allow the device to be more affordable. It also

will help ensure it is compact and lightweight, which is a must for a head-mounted wearable.