Google has reportedly killed its Project Iris augmented reality glasses

Last January, we revealed Google was building an AR headset, too — “Project Iris” would be the company’s bet against the then-yet-to-be-announced headgear from Meta and Apple. But now that its rivals have been revealed, Google is reportedly pulling the plug on glasses-shaped AR: Insider is reporting that Google has shelved its plans for Project Iris, citing three people “familiar with the matter.”

According to the publication, Google is now focused on software instead of hardware. It’s building a “micro XR” platform it could license to other headset manufacturers, much like how Google provides Android to a broad ecosystem of phones.

Qualcomm president and CEO Cristiano Amon, Samsung’s TM Roh, and Google SVP Hiroshi Lockheimer discuss XR on stage in February 2023.Photo by Allison Johnson / The Verge

However, Insider suggests the ski goggle-like headset we originally mentioned may actually still be in the cards — as Google is no longer creating them all by itself. In February, Google, Samsung, and Qualcomm made an incredibly vague announcement about how the three companies were partnering together on a new mixed reality platform, and while we’ve heard nothing meaningful about it since, Insider’s sources say that Google’s goggles “were actually the foundations” of the upcoming Samsung headset.

It wouldn’t be the first project where Samsung and Google collaborated to produce a cutting-edge gadget that Google wasn’t ready to build on its own. Google worked to modify Android to support the Galaxy Fold line of folding phones, long before launching its own Pixel Fold this summer.

Originally, we reported that Google wanted to ship an AR headset in 2024. At Google I/O 2023 last month, Google VP Sameer Samat said that the company would “share more later this year” about the collaboration with Samsung.

Insider reports that that Project Iris was plagued by layoffs and shifting strategies during development, and Google’s head of VR/AR Clay Bavor notably left the company four months ago. Kurt Akeley, a distinguished engineer who we reported was attached to the project, is now listed as “retired” on his LinkedIn page. Two others are still listed as being involved with AR, including Mark Lucovsky, the company’s senior director of operating systems for AR.

Google didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.