10th June 2022
This week Apple held its annual WWDC (Worldwide Developer Conference) and the biggest story in town wasn’t what was shown, but what wasn’t – a new Augmented Reality device. At the same time, Amazon was bolstering its own capabilities in AR.
Apple’s annual showcase is probably best known for the famous Steve Jobs line: ‘one more thing…’ at which point, Apple would famously reveal right at the end of the presentation the latest and most amazing piece of consumer hardware that would spark a rush to their stores. But not this year.
Despite revealing a whole host of new tech and software upgrades including: iOS 16, iPadOS 16, tvOS 16, macOS Ventura, watchOS 9, a new M2 processor and a new redesigned MacBook Air – with white bezels no less – Apple CEO Tim Cook gave no mention of a much anticipated AR device. Furthermore, there wasn’t even really a nod towards the mixed reality future (some call it the Metaverse) that is so occupying other major technology giants at present.
So conspicuous was the absence of AR that you don’t have to search far to find devoted Apple watchers reading implications into every single aspect of WWDC 2022 – including one journalist suggesting even the stage managing of the screen at the event taking on a UI that would be perfect for a HUD type of AR / VR display.
The only real mention of AR was found in the reveal of the new iOS16, which includes ‘Live Text’ that allows you to select text from your images and then interact with it by translating it if in a foreign language or converting it if it is a currency. The iOS16 upgrade also allows you identify a subject in an image and then remove it form the background, enabling you to paste it anywhere like a sticker.
Everyone knows Apple has got something up its sleeve that will have a big impact in the AR world and make a splash in the metaverse, but clearly it isn’t ready to give us ‘one more thing’ just yet.
Meanwhile, Amazon is not being so shy, launching a new service called ‘Virtual Try-On Shoes’, which you guessed it, allows you to virtually try on shoes using AR. The feature is designed to help brands showcase their products and is an evolution of the launch of a previous ‘Virtual Try-On’ for athletic shirts in April, although that put a shirt on an avatar based on the customers measurements.
‘Virtual Try-On Shoes’ initially launches in the U.S. and Canada in the Amazon shopping app on iOS. To use the feature, customers tap on the new “Virtual Try-On” button below the product image.
Die-hard Apple watchers may be disappointed that we didn’t see the future of AR at WWDC 2022 but it surely won’t be long before Apple reveals its play in this space. Meta’s clarion call for the metaverse started the race for the future of reality, whether it is mixed or virtual, commerce will be central to this future, as Amazon will be hoping to prove and there is certainly many more announcements to come along the way.