I used AR glasses with Android tablets and iPads. Only one was good

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Two pairs of AR glasses on top of an iPad and an Android tablet.Nadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

When Apple appear its candidly big-ticket Vision Pro AR headset, arguably its better affiance had little to do with hardware. The aggregation says “hundreds and bags of iPhone and iPad apps” run able-bodied on Vision OS, and they will be accessible to cossack on the Vision Pro on barrage day.

Apple fabricated an anytime bigger affiance to developers. “By default, your iPad and/or iPhone apps will be appear automatically on the App Store on Apple Vision Pro,” the aggregation said. That’s affiliated to analytic the better botheration for an beginning chic of hardware.

Apple won’t be the aboriginal to attack AR/VR hardware. Far from it, actually. The brand of Google accept failed, while Meta still persists with its Quest range. Then we accept XR glasses from the brand of Xreal and TCL. I afresh activated the Xreal Air 2 with my iPad Pro and came out impressed.

Unfortunately, the acquaintance of application AR glasses on tablets is not compatible above the Apple and Android ecosystems. The abysm is a little too advanced in some scenarios.

An endgame appropriate at the doorstep

Xreal Air 2 AR Glasses and the OnePlus Pad.Nadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

I’ll alpha with affinity and affluence of access. I activated the Xreal Air 2 and the RayNeo Air 2, bond them with the iPad Pro and the OnePlus Pad. To clarify. AR glasses are about adored accessory screens that sit on your nose.

The key to accepting AR glasses to assignment with a book is a USB-C anchorage that supports DisplayPort output. All iPads with a USB-C anchorage abutment DisplayPort. Some alike bandy in Thunderbolt support, which allows the book to drive high-resolution monitors.

But as far as AR glasses are concerned, best of which absolute themselves to the Full HD per eye resolution, the accepted DisplayPort Alt Mode action is enough. But the bearings is a tad complex. Only a drop of Android tablets, such as the recent additions to the high-end Samsung Galaxy Tab S series, abutment DisplayPort output.

When I acquainted the Xreal Air 2 into the OnePlus Pad’s USB-C port, I ran into an adverse accouterments error. A quick attending at the Xreal website shows not a distinct book in the account of accordant hardware. Using an adapter didn’t action any help.

Xreal Air 2's close affectation units and the iPad Pro.Nadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

In the case of the RayNeo Air 2 glasses, the OnePlus Pad artlessly didn’t apprehend them. As I mentioned above, alone high-end Samsung tablets abutment DisplayPort over USB-C output. A few added brands accomplish flagship Android tablets, but none of them are accessible in the U.S.

On the iPad Pro, as anon as I acquainted in the Xreal and RayNeo AR glasses, the affectation assemblage automatically went into continued awning approach with Stage Manager enabled. With the tap of a button, you can about-face to screen-mirroring format. But if you’re captivation the iPad in a vertical orientation, it automatically signals the AR glasses to activate screen-mirroring mode. These accurate little conveniences absolutely amount and animate you to dive into new experiences.

On one hand, you accept the Apple tablets — above the mainline, Air, and Pro ambit — accessible for AR glasses and starting at $449. If you can acquisition refurbished units, that’s alike better. On the added hand, Android tablets are bound in availability, alms acutely bound affinity and a abate activity amount in agreement of software amend support.

The axiological firepower question

Xreal Air 2 AR Glasses aloft the OnePlus Pad tablet. Nadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

Before I get into the capacity of AR experiences, let’s abode the accouterments bearings first. The brand of the RayNeo Air  2 or Xreal Air 2 don’t appear with their own accretion or cartoon processing kit; your buzz or book provides all the juice.

As far as basal tasks like web browsing and streaming, any book out there, iPad or Android, is up for the job. But the moment you get into games, you alpha seeing a difference. And if you’re application a affinity hack, that acquaintance is alike added apparent.

Let’s alpha with the hack, which is about a alien screen-mirroring hub. For the Xreal Air 2, you get the Beam. With the RayNeo Air 2, the aggregation sells you a MiraScreen abridged device. Both are standalone purchases and amount over $100 each.

Person alive on iPad Pro with Xreal Air 2 connected.Nadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

If your adverse book doesn’t abutment absolute awning casting via a USB-C port, which is best acceptable the case for an Android slate, you charge to bung the glasses into this hub. Next, application Bluetooth/Wi-Fi, you charge to affix this hub wirelessly to the Android book in your hand.

Once the bond is done, you’re acceptable to go. Your Android phone’s UI will now mirror on the AR glasses’ affectation unit. It’s an big-ticket hassle, but the alone alley ahead. If you’re into arena games, you run into addition problem.

That botheration is processor firepower. The OnePlus Pad appearance the MediaTek Dimensity 9000 chip. It can’t absolutely attempt with the entry-level iPad (and its A13 chip) for a brace of affidavit back it comes to gaming — and absolutely not with any M-series processor central the iPad Air or Pro.

First, the Dimensity 9000, admitting its top-tier credentials, can’t absolutely authority its own adjoin Apple’s A14 — both in real-life gaming or constructed benchmarks. It won’t be a attached agency in accidental games, but the moment you jump into article like Genshin Impact, you will see it abashed and abasement the acquaintance to lower cartoon settings.

OnePlus Pad and Xreal Air AR glasses.This is not the clutter-free approaching of wearable computing. Nadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

Next, back you’ve commutual the AR glasses to an adverse Android book via a apery hub, accumulate in apperception that it’s a wireless lane. Random glitches and lags are apparent. And if you’re addition who brand to absorb time with accompany in high-stakes aggressive ballista games, this band-aid is not for you.

For my gaming comparison, I best up the best ambassador I could acquisition to be on the safe side. I commutual my tablets with the GameSir Cyclone T4 Pro. This one offers Hall Effect sticks and triggers with acutely aerial accurateness alongside concrete buttons.

Before you asperse yourself in gaming on AR glasses, you additionally charge to accede that, abreast from the wireless apery of a ambitious game’s UI on an alien screen, there is the botheration of ascribe back commutual with a Bluetooth controller.

OnePlus Pad, Xreal Beam, and Xreal Air 2 Glasses.You charge to absorb added on the Beam accent to get the Xreal Air 2 alive with the OnePlus Pad. Nadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

On the iPad, the AR glasses await on a absolute active connection. That agency there are little to no beheld hiccups or stutters. The Apple silicon shows its accurate colors and calmly handles graphics-intensive amateur — abnormally those in the Apple Arcade library.

It’s additionally account acquainted that in active affiliation approach with the iPad, the Bluetooth lane is free. That agency you can accompanying affix a wireless earbud and a gaming controller.

The accretion divide

Man holds blooming OnePlus Pad Android book over amplitude gray 11-inch M1 iPad Pro 2021.Tushar Mehta/Digital Trends / Digital Trends

One of the better promises that every XR casting sells is the abstraction of added immersive computing. Imagine seeing amphibian desktops about your head, somewhat like in a sci-fi flick. Xreal offers Nebula, a software that surrounds you with three amphibian desktops. RayNeo additionally offers the facility, but lets you run up to six basic windows.

On the adaptable side, you get no such pizzazz. An altercation can be fabricated that tablets are not absolute computers, so they don’t charge such ambitious tools. But that’s accurate to alone a assertive extent. If you ask me, I’d say “hard disagree.”

For the accomplished two years, the iPad Pro and Samsung Galaxy Tab S accessories accept served as my primary accretion workhorse. Yes, there are limitations, but it never hurts accepting a hidden PC-look-alike arrangement on a slate.

Stage Manager on the Xreal Air 2 AR glasses.This is how Stage Manager appears on the Xreal Air 2 affectation units. Nadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

Apple offers aloof that with Stage Manager. Samsung serves you DeX. I’ve acclimated both extensively. In fact, DeX on the Galaxy Z Fold 5 powered a accomplished 144Hz adviser for two weeks of full-fledged work.

But DeX is added deeply broiled into the adaptable experience, while Stage Manager on iPad feels added complete and a lot afterpiece to macOS than DeX is to Windows. Then there’s the catechism of ecosystem benefits, area Apple is advanced of the Samsung-Windows bonding.

Apart from Samsung tablets, you don’t get a DeX-like accretion advantage on any Android book out there. And the bearings is not activity to change anytime anon for assorted reasons. Can a midrange Qualcomm or MediaTek processor handle article like Stage Manager, but complete aloft Android foundations?

Likely not. Just attending at Apple. The aggregation bound Stage Manager to iPads with desktop-class M processors inside, not those with mobile-tier Bionic A-series processors. As far as the software goes, Apple continues to accomplish slow, but abiding advance with iPadOS against a added computing-friendly approaching by bringing pro-grade apps to the iPads.

The good, bad, and animal of AR and ecosystems

iPad Pro, OnePlus Pad, and XR GlassesNadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

You ability anticipate that AR Glasses are not alone actuality to mirror the awning of your buzz or book abutting to your eyes — and I absolutely accede with the argument. In fact, the abridgement of absolute abutment for iPadOS actively puts Apple on the aback bottom back it comes to AR hardware. But alike with full-fledged affinity in tow, Android doesn’t book abundant better.

On the RayNeo Air 2, the AR adventures are mostly bound to prerecorded beleaguer videos, immersive versions of acclaimed paintings, 3D art pieces, and about a dozen acutely basal amateur that are absolutely hit-or-miss. The bearings on the Xreal Air 2 is worse.

There aloof aren’t abounding mobile-focused apps out there that can accommodate a standout aggrandized absoluteness acquaintance on the adaptable ecosystem, be it Android or iOS/iPadOS. That leaves these glasses as annihilation added than wearable accessory monitors.

But appear 2024, with the accession of Vision Pro, developers will cascade bags of apps into the Apple ecosystem. And with the affectionate of integrations that Apple has already started architecture the foundations for, it won’t be hasty to see added AR apps advancing to the App Store.

Overall, absolutely from a book perspective, Apple is in a abundant bigger position than Android to handle AR glasses. Moreover, with a awful advancing access into the apple of AR and VR planned for 2024, the industry is alone activity to about-face added in the administration of Apple hardware.

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