Google canceled its Apple Vision Pro rival that might have been even better

Vision Pro
(Image credit: Apple)

Google reportedly canceled its own augmented reality headset after working on it for several years.

The headset, dubbed Iris internally, was thought to be closer to a pair of glasses than a pair of ski goggles, the format that most AR/VR headsets take today. That's also the format that Apple chose for its Vision Pro headset.

However, Iris is thought to have been more akin to Google Glass, a pair of augmented glasses that were ultimately canceled themselves years ago.

Focusing elsewhere

Business Insider reports that Google's attempts to get Iris to market included buying other companies. North, a Canadian startup that made its own AR glasses was picked up in 2020, and it's said that an early version of Iris was similar to North's product in terms of design.

However, Iris has now been canceled and Google is instead "focused on creating software platforms for AR that it hopes to license to other manufacturers building headsets," the report claims. "It's building an Android XR platform for Samsung's headset and has been working on a 'micro XR' platform for glasses, a person familiar with the plan said."

As for Apple's Vision Pro, that won't go on sale until the first half of 2024, and the company is already said to be working on two follow-up products. Vision Pro does indeed resemble ski goggles, but it's also thought to be working on its own Apple Glasses product that would more closely resemble the Iris product Google had in mind. Such a product is likely years away from being ready for sale, however.

Meta is also reportedly working on its own AR glasses, with developers expected to get their hands on an early version next year. Business Insider also notes that two Google employees suggested the company could have another run at getting Iris off the ground in the future.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.