Mark Zuckerberg’s plan to kill the iPhone: Meta’s AR glasses

It’s no secret that Mark Zuckerberg hates the hold that mobile operating systems have over…

It’s no secret that Mark Zuckerberg hates the hold that mobile operating systems have over its platform, especially Apple’s iPhone. We already know that the CEO of Facebook (now called Meta) wants to deliver a killing blow to the iPhone with the help of augmented reality (AR) glasses. AR glasses wouldn’t need to be paired to an iPhone or Android phone to operate. Zuckerberg teased the tech a couple of years ago, but a new report provides more details about his ambitious Meta AR glasses.

According to information that The Verge obtained, Zuckerberg has high expectations for the Meta AR glasses. “Zuck’s ego is intertwined with [the glasses],” a former employee told the site. “He wants it to be an iPhone moment.”

The problem with that is that Meta isn’t the only company developing the kind of AR glasses that might kill the iPhone. Apple also happens to be working on such devices. The iPhone maker will introduce mixed reality glasses late in 2022 or early next year. But Apple’s pair of elegant AR glasses that look like regular eyewear might be an iPhone “killer” too.

Apple Watch Series 7 on a table next to AirPods Pro and an iPhone 13 Pro. Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

Meta reportedly wants to release several generations of AR glasses, with the first model to drop in 2024. It is called Project Nazare. Following it are the second- and third-gen glasses that will drop in 2026 and 2028, if all goes according to plan.

Nazare won’t need a connection to a smartphone. However, it will hook up wirelessly to a phone-shaped device that will include computing elements.

Separately, a cheaper device might launch alongside Nazare called Hypernova which will need a tether to a smartphone to display messages and notifications.

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Zuckerberg reportedly wants Nazare to offer a complete AR experience and rich 3D graphics. He’s also looking for a large field of view and a “socially acceptable design.” In practice, that means a field of view of 70 degrees at best. But that appears to be a goal that can’t be met. And the current design looks like “Superman’s black frames when he’s disguised as Clark Kent,” per The Verge.

The iPhone “killer” also weighs about 100 grams. That’s four times more than regular glasses. The frame will include stereo speakers.

Running the show is a custom version of Android that Meta is developing in-house.

Facebook AR Glasses
A woman flicks her fingers to control a user interface. A Facebook device on her wrist “reads” her mind and sends commands to an AR device. Image source: Facebook via YouTube

The AR glasses will feature expensive custom waveguides and microLED projectors, as Zuckerberg is sparing no expense. The first model will also feature eye-tracking movement and a front-facing camera.

Meta also wants to make custom chips for the AR glasses.

The high-tech tricks

Zuckerberg has even bigger ambitions for the Meta AR glasses. The CEO wants users to communicate and interact with holograms of people in the future.

Moreover, Meta wants to pair the AR glasses with wearable devices that you wear around the wrist. The gadgets will read your mind, allowing you to type and perform other gestures that would otherwise require a smartphone display. We saw Facebook demo the CTRL-Labs tech before, but that was just a concept rather than a product approaching a commercial launch.

Before it gets there, Meta will launch a smartwatch of its own that won’t have this sort of functionality built-in. The plan is for the third-gen smartwatch to feature this futuristic CTRL-Labs tech in time for the AR glasses’ arrival in 2024.

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Getting back to the AR glasses, Meta doesn’t yet have a wearable prototype. Instead, it has a stationary demonstration that sits on a table.

Facebook Ray-Ban Stories Main
Facebook Ray-Ban Stories Main Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

Zuckerberg might have big plans to kill the iPhone, but Meta only has “tepid” sales expectations for the AR glasses. It wants to sell low tens of thousands of the first generation. The device will be more expensive than the $299 Oculus VR headset, but it’s unclear how much Meta will charge for it.

The Verge notes that the Nazare’s bill of materials will be in the multiple thousands of dollars. As a result, Meta would have to subsidize the price to make it attractive.

But Meta wants to sell tens of millions of Ar glasses by the end of the decade. The list will include devices like the Nazare, Hypernova, but also future Ray-Ban camera glasses.

That 2024 release window isn’t set in stone for the Meta AR glasses. The full report is available at this link.


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