New Apple patent filing hints that ‘Apple Glasses’ will require an iPhone

Apple has filed for a patent (number 20200396324) that hints that an iPhone will need to be tethered to “Apple Glasses” for the augmented reality/virtual reality head-mounted display (HMD) to work, at least in some situations.

The patent filing notes that a HMD may review media from a device such as an iPhone or iPod touch. This can be done via a cable connection.

However, we know that Apple doesn’t particularly like long, bulky cables. In the patent filing, the tech giant notes that a wired connection may be inconvenient and cumbersome for the user in certain situations (e.g., the user must separately hold multiple devices and deal with cables). 

In addition to being unwieldy, the coupled system often utilizes redundant features, which are not necessary when using the devices together. By way of example, each device utilizes a display screen, which adds cost, size, weight, and complexity to the entire system. 

Apple says there’s a need for an improved HMD system, particularly a system that temporarily integrates or merges both mechanically and electronically a head-mounted device with a portable electronic device. Apple’s idea is for an HMD and methods of operation that allow users to couple and decouple it from an iPhone or iPod touch. 

“The portable electronic device may be operatively coupled to the head-mounted device such that the portable electronic device and head mounted device can communicate and operate with one another,” Apple notes. “Each device may be allowed to extend its features and/or services to the other device for the purpose of enhancing, increasing and/or eliminating redundant functions between the head-mounted device and the portable electronic device.”

When it comes to Apple Glasses, such a device will arrive next year or 2022, depending on which rumor you believe. It will be a head-mounted display. Or may have a design like “normal” glasses. Or it may be available in both. As noted by today’s patent filing, the Apple Glasses may or may not have to be tethered to an iPhone to work. Other rumors say that Apple Glasses could have a custom-build Apple chip and a dedicated operating system dubbed “rOS” for “reality operating system.”