What it is: Google tried smart glasses with Google Glass, but Apple may define the market in the future.
When Google released Google Glass, there wasn’t a compelling reason to use it. Beyond the creepy ability to video someone without their knowledge, Google Glass offered little in the way of features that would solve actual problems. That’s why Apple is refining augmented reality first on the iPhone and iPad. Once people find augmented reality useful and get comfortable (and dependent) on it, then they’ll be able to shift people easily into smart glasses.
Think of how Apple introduced the iPad. Rather than develop a tablet and expect everyone to adopt it for no reason (think of Microsoft’s original Surface tablets tuning Windows RT), Apple created the iPhone and got people excited and used to touch screens on a smartphone. Then it was easy to shift people to the larger iPad screen especially because the iPad ran iOS and could run iPhone apps as well. Now that people have embraced both the iPhone and iPad, the iPad is diverging from the iPhone but both products are firmly entrenched in the public’s mind.
Augmented reality is Apple’s way to hesitantly step forward into the future by offering features that gradually get people used to its uses. Beyond playing Pokemon GO, augmented reality will soon offer more interesting features that people will depend on, such as walking or driving directions that display useful sights along the way. Once people get used to directions through augmented reality, it’s a small step to put that augmented reality view in smart glasses that people can use.
Smart glasses will essentially be an iPhone screen visible at all times without forcing you to hold a device in front of your eyes. After people get dependent on augmented reality through an iPhone, smart glasses will be an easy transition.
Augmented reality is the key to the transition form the smartphone to the tablet to smart glasses. Google had to revise their augmented reality framework drastically to catch up to Apple, but Apple is slowly plowing ahead. With augmented reality easy to use on iOS devices, this will be one feature used to attract people to the iOS platform. Eventually Android will be forced to catch up but augmented reality will pave the way towards smart glasses eventually.
Augmented reality is a technology with more potential at this point than actual products, but that will change over time. Augmented reality is the next user interface that will drive the mobile and smart glasses wearable market in the future.