With the iPhone 8 rumor tsunami showing no signs of a slowdown anytime soon, as the Touch ID debate continues and the treasure trove of HomePod firmware information remains unexplored in its entirety, it’s easy to lose perspective of Apple’s long-term AR vision.

The next “paradigm shift” for the world’s top tech industry trendsetter has already begun, albeit timidly, with the introduction of ARKit for iOS developers. Various apps and iOS 11 services will be able to go “beyond the screen”, interacting “with the real world in entirely new ways” on multiple compatible iPhones and iPads.

Of course, the super-advanced OLED iPhone 8 should get the most out of Apple’s theoretical augmented reality expertise, thanks to a pair of front and rear-facing 3D sensors and possibly other unique new tricks enabled through a combination of hardware and software enhancements.

Sometime down the line, it’s no big secret that Apple intends to take AR technology to the next level, cooking up for more than a little while now a mysterious pair of smart glasses. What insiders haven’t been able to settle on was whether a super-high-tech HoloLens rival is coming or something humbler and cheaper, in the same vein as Snap’s Spectacles.

It seems that’s still a predicament dividing executives and engineers, as “several different kinds of prototypes” are “being experimented with” as we speak, according to “people close to the company” cited in a new Financial Times report.

The balance might be tipping in favor of a product with “3D cameras but no screens, leaving the iPhone as the hub and main display”, which sounds like the more cautious, budget-focused approach. But since when is that Apple’s preferred modus operandi? Would you be disappointed if you had several more months, maybe a year, to wait before an iPhone-tethered AR headset with limited functionality came to light?

Adrian has had an insatiable passion for writing since he was in school and found himself writing philosophical essays about the meaning of life and the differences between light and dark beer. Later, he realized this was pretty much his only marketable skill, so he first created a personal blog (in Romanian) and then discovered his true calling, which is writing about all things tech (in English).

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