Welcome to our Apple Breakfast column, which includes all the Apple news you missed last week in one handy bite-sized roundup. We call it Apple Breakfast because we think it’s delicious with a cup of coffee or tea in the morning, but it’s also great if you want to read it at lunchtime or dinner.
Glass half full
Google Glass is a disappointment. That’s not exactly news, but it’s now official: This week’s company finally stopped the business version of the product, which itself replaced the unpopular consumer devices whose wearers were subjected to ridicule and occasional physical violence, and coined the term “Glass-hole.” An embarrassing story has ended, and not for a moment.
Then again, the timing is notable and somewhat surprising as it comes just months before Apple is expected to make its own foray into the world of face-mounted computing with a mixed-reality headset. (Skeptics might point out that we’ve been waiting years for the headset and insist that they’ll believe it when they see it, but the chorus of leaks and rumors is becoming deafening.) This suggests that one of the these two tech giants have completely misread the market: Google thinks it’s the right time to get out of augmented reality–or its own vague approximation of it, as I’ll explain in a bit–and thinks of Apple that this is the right time to enter. They can’t do both right.
Google’s negative experiences in this field could be beneficial for Apple, where this would be a hugely significant launch with the potential to usher in a vast ecosystem that could one day rival the success of the iPhone, or to destroy Tim Cook’s legacy forever. Apple needs to look at the things Google did wrong, and the hurdles it didn’t overcome, and find a different path… or just hope the market changes enough that both methods are now more successful . That’s where the importance of timing comes into play.
The single biggest problem facing both companies, Google then and Apple now, is how different a face-mounted device is from the tech products we spend most of our time using. The introduction of tablets and smartwatches essentially recreated the smartphone experience on a larger or smaller screen and did not require a paradigm shift in the user’s relationship with the device. It’s still a little glowing rectangle hidden somewhere about your person that you pull out and look at when it needs attention. But a pair of smart glasses or particularly a mixed-reality headset requires a relationship with the technology, and the world around you, that most users have never had in their lives.
Google Glass is something “in your face” in more ways than one and manages to make its users look like hipster showoffs, crazy futurists, and Orwellian informants all at once. And it’s a pretty discreet product that at least somewhat mimics the look of a regular pair of eyeglasses. How annoying would passers-by find a mixed-reality device covering your eyes and most of your head? How long does it take to openly mock a Reality One user?
The hope, here, is that the world has moved on and that Google Glass is considered all the more exciting because it seems new. Apple could benefit in this regard from Google’s selfless work taking the world into smart glasses, which don’t seem as space-age as they did in 2013. Furthermore, when a product’s user base has hit critical mass, it’s no longer strange. Apple hopes to normalize its headset through a combination of sales clout and marketing savvy. Many people thought “iPad” was a ridiculously bad brand name until all their friends suddenly owned one.
The key here, and the way to avoid Google’s mistakes, is to both convey the benefits of AR and let the public know what those benefits are. Because, as my colleague Jason Cross points out, Google Glass isn’t really an AR product. Instead, it’s a fancy head-up display that’s incapable of interacting with real-world objects. So its users accept the public shame of wearing an AR device without seeing the benefits of such a product. It’s all pain—literally, in some cases—and no gain. It’s probably no coincidence that Microsoft’s HoloLens, which is actually an AR device, is still around, or at least still in development.
Apple, I don’t think, would be happy with a niche role in the corporate sector like the HoloLens has carved out, or in medical or educational settings, but it still leaves us with no clear understanding what will be Reality One’s killer consumer app. . With the idea that it will also offer virtual reality features, one possibility is home gaming, but the suspicion remains that Apple doesn’t really understand the gaming market, and that VR gamers will have better and probably more cheap options elsewhere. It could also consign Apple to the metaverse, as sickening as that word is to type.
But the most promising point is this: Thanks to its many talented app developers, Apple doesn’t have to decide what the product is for. It just needs to put the hardware out there and see where the community takes it. Perhaps it will be used primarily for gaming, be it social or educational, or perhaps users will completely abandon the outside world and take refuge in an imagined universe free of poverty and hostility. If you build it–and build it well–they will come.
It’s probably worth making sure the product name doesn’t lend itself to an obvious insult, however.
Reviews (and previews) corner
Our iPhone 14 Plus review (in yellow) found a good phone in a not a very good price.
to Apple first 3nm chip is shaping up to be a big step up from the A16. Find out more about our A17 preview.
Trending: Top stories
We circled four iPhone 15 upgrades that will do you one wants now.
Yes, Apple will ‘fake’ zoomed photos on the iPhone 15 too–but how far will it go?
There’s new reality distortion field because Tim Cook is doomed, Macalope reckoning.
The Mac security key is not new Air–it is next iPad Pro.
Microsoft Word for Mac will soon be available two big shortcuts we’ve been wanting for years.
A political change can give Apple a reprieve on US antitrust push.
Apple hiring trims and bonuses as income declines, but avoiding layoffs.
Tim Cook missed the AR/VR headset the design team’s objections to a 2023 launch, according to a new report.
Apple is believed to test a next-gen ‘Bobcat’ language generation for Siri.
The iPhone 15 Pro can start at more than $1,000, in the Pro line first price increase.
The iPhone 15 Ultra, meanwhile, has already been reported ‘break the record’ for thinnest bezel.
Apple does turns AirPods into a ‘health tool’ in strengthen the hearing.
Podcast of the week
The third and possibly final season of Ted Lasso is here so we thought it would be a good time to review our thoughts on Apple TV+. Is Apple doing enough to keep up with the competition? This episode of the Macworld Podcast is here!
You can catch every episode of the Macworld Podcast at Spotify, SoundcloudThe Podcast appo our own site.
Software updates, bugs and problems
iOS 16.4 beta 4 has arrivedcarrying new emoji and some improvements.
More: macOS Ventura 13.3 beta 4 is now available too.
And with that, we’re done for this week. If you want to get regular roundups, sign up for our newsletters. You can also follow us on Twitter o in Facebook for a discussion of the breaking Apple news story. See you next Saturday, enjoy the rest of your weekend, and stay at Appley’s.