Mark Zuckerberg isn’t interested in AR glasses that are like ‘an Apple Watch on your face’

By

John Prosser
Zuck's comments sound like a shot at Apple's plans.
Photo: Jon Prosser/Front Page Tech

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took a low-key shot at Apple’s AR plans in a new interview with The Verge, saying that he’s not enthusiastic about “putting an Apple Watch on [his] face.”

While Zuck was talking more broadly about augmented reality glasses, the fact that he called out Apple Watch (and the fact that Apple is the highest profile company reportedly working on AR glasses) makes it pretty clear which direction he’s throwing his shade.

Zuckerberg’s answer concerned the challenge of making AR glasses. He said that:

“I really don’t think that AR is going to be good until you get normal-looking glasses that can project holograms into the world. And now, glasses range from thin to pretty thick frames. I don’t think we’re anywhere near getting all the electronics that you would need to get into a thin frame. But the hope would be that you can get it into more normal-looking glasses in the first part of this decade or the first half of this decade.

And that will be challenging, and people will take different approaches to getting that to work. The biggest shortcut that a lot of folks are trying to take is basically trying to not do full holograms in the world, and just show some heads-up information. I call that ‘putting an Apple Watch on your face.’

I don’t personally find that particularly compelling. It’s not a product that we’re particularly excited about making. Maybe someone else will make it.”

Facebook vs. Apple

There’s been a gradual breakdown in relations between Facebook and Apple over time. Steve Jobs reportedly got on well with Mark Zuckerberg. Apple was also one of the first big companies to come to an advertising agreement with Facebook, providing the social network with its first big recurring revenue.

But things seem to have soured in recent times. During the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which Facebook was accused of failing to safeguard user data, Apple CEO Tim Cook was asked how he would have behaved in Zuckerberg’s situation. “I wouldn’t be in that situation,” he said.

In January 2019, Apple disrupted Facebook by breaking its internal apps because it found that Facebook took advantage of its Apple developer certificates to distribute a “research” app outside of the App Store.

Zuckerberg has also thrown shots at Apple. During this summer’s tech antitrust hearing in Congress, he noted that “the most popular messaging service in the U.S. is iMessage,” suggesting it should be scrutinized. More recently, he opined that, “some of [Apple’s] behavior certainly raises questions.”

Getting AR glasses right

It’s still not exactly clear what Apple has planned for its projected AR glasses. In May, Apple leaker Jon Prosser released a video with alleged details about the Apple Glass project. According to Prosser, Apple Glass will sport a LiDAR sensor for scanning, but no camera. Prosser also said the glasses will display information inside both lenses and work via gesture controls, and could possibly be shown off by the end of 2020.

However, fellow Apple leaker and reporter Mark Gurman has decried these rumors. Gurman says Apple is currently working on two devices. The first is code-named N301. This will combine the “best of” VR and AR in a headset capable of overlaying AR images. The second project, code-name N421, is “a lightweight pair of glasses using AR only.” In a June Bloomberg report, Gurman wrote that Apple could announce the first headset in 2021 and release it the year after that. Meanwhile, Apple’s AR glasses will arrive “by 2023” at the earliest, according to Gurman.

Don’t ship until it’s ready

Tim Cook has been very outspoken when it comes to his excitement about AR. But in a 2017 interview, Cook said that Apple will only ship an AR headset when it can do it in a “quality way.” Cook went on to say that, “We don’t give a rat’s about being first. We want to be the best, and give people a great experience. But now anything you would see on the market any time soon would not be something any of us would be satisfied with. Nor do I think the vast majority of people would be satisfied.”

Do you have faith in Apple to release a compelling AR headset? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Source: The Verge