Apple's work on augmented reality glasses appears to be shifting to a new phase this week, as a series of recent job postings and a reported leadership change suggest that the company is actively working to bring a new AR / VR platform to market. Many of the new jobs have opened over the past week, with a key product manager position emerging on Apple's hiring page today.
On the hiring front, Apple recently released (via RoadtoVR) a large collection of new positions calling specifically for AR and VR expertise, ranging from graphics, system user interfaces, system frameworks and software engineers to an AR / VR demo evangelist and the said product manager position. Overall, the lists point to a wide range of needs at Apple ̵
The entries are particularly within the Apple Technology Development Group, an ambiguously named part of the company that has reportedly worked with augmented reality glasses, as well as a new operating system called ROS. Interestingly, however, the job descriptions tend to refer to “AR / VR” instead of AR or VR alone, suggesting that Apple may have decided to make a headset with both features instead of focusing solely on AR.
While there has been a lot of speculation about Apple's progress in the mixed reality space, the company has offered no specific assurances beyond the hint that it will go beyond the capabilities of ARKit, its iOS-expanded reality software toolkit. The company has given developers the opportunity to start working on iPhone and iPad-dependent AR apps, apparently with modest success despite continued efforts.
However, a separate report from the Information yesterday suggested that Apple has moved a particularly disciplined, demanding programmer named Kim Vorrath into a leadership role with the augmented reality team. Vorrath's name first appeared years ago in a profile that established its role as a product finalist – some that correlates developers to adhere to internal deadlines and actually releases releases of iOS and macOS on time. Now, the report claims, Apple hopes it will bring "some orders to the team developing a long-awaited AR headset," which may or may not be able to meet a previously proposed 2020 delivery timeline based on current progress.
Apple has also hired Nat Brown a Valve VR team member and cookery maker of Microsoft's original Xbox, to a position that will focus "on all graphics applications" on the Apple platforms. It's unclear whether Brown will continue to work with VR at Apple or have a broader portfolio in the company, but a series of post-employment tweets suggested he loves working with "platform ecosystems and systems engineering", bringing third-party developers to work on and improving hardware platforms, and are particularly interested in how "gaming and AR / VR push systems really, really hard."
Last month, a dubious supply chain suggested that Apple had canceled its AR headset project and disbanded its development team in May, earlier departure from former HoloLens creator Avi Bar-Zeev from 2019 from the company. The project was first published by Bloomberg in 2017, at the time suggesting that Apple hoped to ship the headset by 2020.