Apple and Valve have teamed up to develop an AR headset, according to a report from DigiTimes, and it could be released as early as the second half of 2020.
Valve has already heavily invested in VR—we called the Valve Index, above, the best headset around in our Valve Index review—and the pair have already collaborated before when Valve brought SteamVR to Mac, but interest in AR seems to be steadily increasing, in no small part thanks to things like Pokémon Go and Minecraft Earth.
Gaming has only been a small part of Apple's vision for AR, but a partnership with Valve suggests that the dedicated headset could have more of a gaming slant. That said, Apple could have just been looking for an experienced partner, and Valve has already developed multiple headsets.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has already made a lot of bold predictions about AR, including that it will become as ubiquitous as smart phones, or even eating three meals a day. An extra piece of kit you need to carry around with you isn't likely the make that happen, but there are other advantages to a dedicated device over an AR-capable phone that's designed for a dozen different jobs.
The same boasts were made of VR, but it remains expensive and largely restricted to enthusiasts, so that future still seems impossibly far off. Despite their differences, the pitch for VR and AR is pretty similar, though the latter has proved more accessible thanks phones and tablets.
There have been other hints about Apple's AR plans, though DigiTimes claimed that development had ceased on headsets. According to the new report, however, the team wasn't disbanded, the project just changed to a collaborative one with Valve.
Valve and Apple haven't addressed the report yet, but I've reached out and will update the story if new details appear.