Google wants to follow an Android-like model for its smart glasses software

Google wants to follow an Android-like model for its smart glasses software

The company’s XR headset development with Samsung has caused an internal turmoil

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Apple managed to wow the world with its Vision Pro headset at WWDC in June this year. But it is not the only one working on AR headsets and glasses. Google was reportedly working on multiple AR projects, with two of them due out by 2025. But the company was unsure of its vision and ended up canceling its headset while splitting the AR division into Platforms & Ecosystems and Devices & Services. Alongside all this, the company partnered with Samsung to develop Android-based Extended Reality headsets. A new report sheds light on the development of the XR headset, codenamed “Project Moohan,” and the turmoil it has caused inside Google.

While the partnership between the two companies was announced in February 2023, they have been apparently working on the XR headset since at least early 2022. However, this collaboration caused a lot of internal unrest at Google. This was because Samsung did not want other divisions inside Google to know about the project and the technology being used, as this could enable the latter to build a competing product of its own.

One former Google employee told Business Insider that Samsung’s tight grip over the headset’s hardware features has caused a “situation where nobody is driving.” The Korean giant has also delayed the launch of its XR headset until at least the summer of 2024 following Apple’s Vision Pro unveiling. Google’s executives confirmed the delay to their staff, but they are unsure if the new timeline will be enough to develop a product that can rival Apple’s offering.

Alongside the XR headset with Samsung, Google is independently working on a project codenamed Betty. With this, it aims to provide “Micro XR” software to manufacturers interested in building their own glasses. The software is being tested on monocular “Betty” glasses, but the team is also building a binocular version codenamed “Barry.”

Google wants to secure a partner for its software as soon as this year, though it does not expect products to hit the shelve until at least 2025. There are rumors that Samsung could be the first vendor to use Micro XR, but nothing is confirmed as of now.

These are not the only AR projects Google is working on. A team inside the company’s devices division led by Paul Greco, former CTO of Magic Leap, is working on Iris-like glasses. However, this team is working independently of the Samsung XR headset and the Micro XR groups. As one current Google employee aptly said in the report, “It’s a weird bureaucratic mess.”

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