Forward-looking: Despite numerous reports over the years, Apple's AR endeavors have yet to expand beyond its ARKit apps. But that could be about to change, with the company reportedly set to start mass producing its first augmented reality product as soon as the fourth quarter.

According to a report by renowned Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Cupertino's AR glasses could go into mass production by Q4 2019. He believes that at the very latest, they will start being mass produced in the second quarter of 2020.

Back in 2017, Bloomberg wrote that Apple was set to ship an augmented reality headset next year, which aligns with Kuo's report. The publication said the device would run on a custom version of iOS called rOS (Reality Operating System) and, unlike similar efforts from Google and Samsung, wouldn't be powered by a smartphone. But Kuo writes that this won't be the case. He believes the glasses' main function will be to act as a display, with all of the processing, rendering, networking, etc. handled by the user's iPhone, which will connect wirelessly, presumably.

Having only a display, sensor, and connectivity hardware should mean that the glasses are not only light but also much cheaper than rival devices such as Microsoft's HoloLens 2, which will cost $3,500 when released later this year. Whether it can offer an experience of similar quality is another matter, of course.

Apple has been backing augmented reality for a long time. Back in 2016, CEO Tim Cook said the company was "high on AR for the long run," and last year, the firm acquired Akonia Holographics, a small tech company founded by holography scientists.

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