Ask most tech companies today what product will replace the smartphone and the answer will probably revolve around a wearable device for “augmented reality,” the tech that overlays digital images on the real world.
Microsoft has the HoloLens headset. Google has Project Tango for Android devices, and, one day, headgear like Google Glass. Facebook announced its AR ambitions a few months ago, and Mark Zuckerberg even said AR glasses will replace the need for most screens in your life one day.
Apple’s approach is different.
There weren’t any AR goggle demos or TED talk-esque prophecies about how a pair of glasses will soon be the only computer you need. Instead, Apple is starting with something already very familiar: the iPhone and a new way for developers to build AR apps for the phone. When iOS 11 becomes available on tens of millions of Apple devices this fall, Apple will immediately have the largest AR platform. Even better, it’ll be on the devices that people already use, not futuristic glasses or headsets. Apple will get a major advantage over its AR competitors with one simple software update.