Sitting in the warm California sun, slowly melting in my wooden folding chair as I listened to Apple's WWDC 2022 keynote, I thought, It'll be worth it when Tim Cook puts on those sweet, sweet Apple glasses.
But he never did. The CEO of Apple and his various executives who introduced us to all the new updates iOS 16, iPadOS 16, watchOS 9, macOS Venture, sOS (oh wait, I made that up) did not reveal or mock the augmented or mixed reality glasses from Apple.
They did not introduce the rumored realityOS platform. The glasses and any code that might support them did not show up. I don't think there is a single significant mention of AR or VR.
I can't shake the disappointment I feel at the lack of that one more thing, that shining moment that elevates one Apple event above all others.
Do not get confused. I enjoyed the WWDC 2022 keynote. It was a veritable firehouse of information that we all keep going through.
Many rumors like the new lock and notification screens in iOS 16 and the mighty M2 and the new MacBook Air have come true. Of course they did, right? The rumors were so strong and widespread that his arrival was almost announced.
However, there have been at least as many rumors about Apple's mixed reality headset. Or is it two helmets? There are strong rumors about goggle-like goggles that will provide incredible mixed reality views of your world.
There is also talk of more immersive headgear which, a la Meta Quest, would provide outdoor VR experiences that would allow you to be aware of the outside world but more importantly live in VR bliss.
don't believe the hype
As WWDC approaches, the pace of rumors about some kind of imminent Apple AR/VR announcement has picked up.
Just this week, The New York Times ran a lengthy article full of "people in the know" that seemed to indicate we might be smelling Apple Glass at WWDC.
To be clear, the story never broke that we would see a headset or even a development platform to support it, but the announcements were intended to offer potential app support for the future headset.
I know I went to the main conference thinking that while we wouldn't see a touchscreen or working headset, Cook would reveal the realityOS development platform to give coders a long run to prepare for hardware.
I was expecting a real sizzle from Apple Glass with a Tim Cook himself holding the frames like glasses at the end of his speech.
Rumors that led me down this garden path aside, I paid close attention to Cook's own words. On an earnings call in 2018, Cook said, "I think AR is deep."
Three years later, he said AR was vitally important to Apple's future.
I don't think that has changed and no one doubts that Apple is hard at work on AR and VR hardware. So what happened?
People crowd around Tim Cook in the Apple Theater, perhaps asking him where he's hiding Apple Glass. (Image credit: Future/Lance Ulanoff)
Some industry observers I've spoken with believe that the entire Apple Glass and/or realityOS section was cut from the keynote at the last minute. People said similar things when the glasses didn't show up at Apple's spring event where it unveiled its new silicon and Mac Studio.
This notion, however, paints Apple as capricious and even uncertain. The Apple I know is methodical and orchestrates every experience, whether it's a product it owns or an event it hosts.
The WWDC 2022 keynote wasn't even a live performance. After a brief appearance on stage to greet the crowd of pastry chefs, Cook descended and took over a 90-plus minute pre-recorded video. How do you make last minute changes to a presentation like this?
Still, I can't shake the disappointment I feel at the lack of that one more thing, that one shining moment that elevates an Apple event above all others.
Apple could still talk privately with developers of realityOS and Apple Glass (WWDC runs all week), but the opportunity to excite consumers (or businesses) is gone for another year.
I don't see Apple unveiling a new platform in the middle of the year, and certainly not outside of a developer event. After all, Apple Glass can't win without great apps and content. The New York Times says that Apple is talking to the likes of director Jon Favreau about bringing amazing content to Apple Glass, but none of it will work without the apps and interfaces to support it.
For that you need developers and for developers you need WWDC. Guess we'll have to wait until WWDC 2023.