In the most unexpected alliance anyone would expect, Valve is said to be working with Apple to co-develop a new Augmented Reality device. Valve has proven in the past that they have no problem working with other companies for a common goal. Apple, however, is likely one of the last names anyone would expect to see next to the word "collaboration." The two companies have never had close relationships - although they did work together on the release of SteamVR on Mac - and, at first glance, they both seem diametrically opposed.
Although they specialize in the development and distribution of PC games, Valve has experimented with hardware manufacturing and distribution in the past, from the now conveniently forgotten Steam Machines project, to the more successful Valve Index VR system. Apple, on the other hand, produces both its hardware and software but has relatively little to do with gaming up until the recent launch of Apple Arcade. So while both companies have quite a bit in common from a technological standpoint, they seem somewhat incompatible with each other at a glance when it comes to "hardcore" gaming or gaming hardware.
According to DigiTimes, with growing public interest in Augmented Reality solutions, it seems Valve and Apple decided to combine their expertise on a new Augmented Reality device. And indeed, in this case, for such a project, their combination sounds like a match made in heaven. Valve has left its mark on gaming, giving us few but excellent, award-winning titles, from the Half-Life series to the two Portals, Counter-Strike, Dota 2, etc.. It just so happens Valve is also responsible for Steam, the largest game store, and software distribution platform in the PC world. Apple, on the other hand, knows best how to create solutions from Macs to iPhones, where highly polished, closed-system hardware and software work closely together to provide the best possible user experience.
Working together on such a project sounds strange for different reasons for each company: Valve has so far supported Virtual Reality (the HTC Vive) instead of Augmented Reality systems - used in some of the most popular mobile gaming experiences. Although closely related, Virtual Reality solutions present their own digital "realities" rather than trying to upgrade the one we live in, unlike Augmented Reality. Apple, on the other hand, has shown more interest in the past for Augmented Reality systems since they bode well with its existing ecosystem of hardware, software and solutions in general. Apple might not have released its own headset yet, like Google, but the company is no stranger to Augmented Reality, with titles like Pokemon GO, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, and Archer: Dreamland available through Apple iTunes. But Apple rarely relies on partnerships with third parties and prefers to keep every aspect of the research, design, development, manufacturing, and distribution of its solutions in-house.
Prioritizing Virtual over Augmented Reality makes sense for Valve: Virtual Reality, unlike Augmented Reality that "builds on the existing world", isolates the user from the real world and allows them to feel like they're present in a virtual world. Apple, on the other hand, is known to have been more than toying around with the idea of creating its own Augmented Reality headset. Its CEO, Tim Cook, had predicted that, sometime in the not-too-distant future, Augmented Reality systems would be as widespread and commonplace as smartphones are today.
According to DigiTimes, although Apple had stopped developing its own Augmented Reality headsets the same team is the one that is now collaborating with Valve for the production of a new AR headset. For the assembly of the final hardware, they're said to be working with Pegatron and Taiwan's ODMs Quanta Computer, aiming for a release as early as Q3 2020.