xrOS: What to expect from Apple’s AR/VR Headset software

Apple is finally anticipated to unveil a mixed reality headgear and its operating system at WWDC on June 5, 2023, after what feels like an eternity of rumours. Though many Apple fans are left wondering what this new operating system, known as xrOS, would look like and what intriguing features it will bring as the keynote draws nearer.

If you’re one of these ardent Apple supporters, you’re in the right place. I’ve provided a concise overview of xrOS for Apple’s mixed reality headset in this article.

What is Apple’s xrOS?

According to recent rumours, xrOS may very well be Apple’s next significant software platform, driving the company’s planned Reality Pro mixed reality headset.

Its main goal will be to provide a very familiar user interface shared by Apple’s current lineup of iPhones and iPads along with an intensely immersive augmented and virtual reality experience.

xrOS-reality-OS-render
xrOS renders by Ben Geskin

xrOS: The story so far

One can trace Apple’s initial AR/VR endeavors back to Apple’s push in 2017, which let developers use iPhone’s camera and motion sensors to bring ARKit-compatible apps to the App Store.

Early in 2022, though, rumours of Apple’s work on an AR/VR headset with a custom processor, display, and operating system began to circulate. According to open-source code that Apple provided on GitHub, this operating system was formerly known as “realityOS.”

As of late 2022, reports by Mark Gurman stated that Apple is now referring to the software as “xrOS,” wherein “xr” stands for extended reality.

Additionally, before to the September 2022 launch of its premium iPhone 14 Pro, Apple followed a same strategy. Apple has officially registered the xrOS wordmark in New Zealand, similar to how they did with the Dynamic Island trademark in Jamaica before the launch. This registration was made under the fictitious business name Deep Dive LLC, which lends credence to the information.

xrOS expected features

Given Apple’s track record of keeping things under wraps until the last second, we can’t say anything for sure about the operating system’s final features. However, there’s still some possibility that we might see something along the lines of the expected features listed below.

  • A dedicated Home Screen: xrOS could offer a dedicated gesture-based user interface that would look identical to the one found on iPhone and iPad, complete with a springboard with a grid of icons and widgets.
  • A dedicated App Store: Just like for Apple’s major software platforms — iOS, iPadOS, and macOS — we can expect xrOS to have a dedicated App Store from where users can get different AR/VR apps.
  • Apple TV+ integration: xrOS is said to have an immersive video-watching feature that can make viewers feel like they’re seeing a movie on a giant screen, and Apple TV+ integration will be an integral part of it.
  • Apple Arcade integration: Apple might also expand Apple Arcade to offer new AR/VR games for an immersive gaming experience on its new headset.
  • Immersive Maps interface: The headset might feature an immersive Maps interface that would incorporate Apple’s Look Around and landmark features, allowing users to explore cities around the globe.
  • Apple Fitness+ integration: There’s also a likelihood of Fitness+ integration wherein you can use the mixed reality headset during workouts and see your real-time progress as you follow along with your trainers.
  • Revamped FaceTime experience: FaceTime is also due to receive a revamp with a new feature that can realistically render a user’s face and entire body in virtual reality using cameras inside and outside the headset.

xrOS: The supposed end of AR/VR rivalry?

Only a few companies are currently active in the AR/VR sector, with Meta dominating it. Apple’s strategy is considerably different from that of Meta and other competitors, which view AR and VR as two very distinct technologies. By providing a uniform operating system that enables users to effortlessly move between the two, it seeks to close the gap between AR and VR.

Additionally, xrOS might contribute to further integrating Apple’s mixed reality headset into the company’s previously developed ecosystem of products, which all function in perfect harmony and are unmatched by any other tech behemoth. This leads me to assume that xrOS may put an end to the AR/VR competition between Apple and Meta before it ever begins if it lives up to its claims.

Wrapping up…

If Apple’s xrOS materialises, it might revolutionise how we use technology and establish mixed reality as a mainstream technology. Even if this sounds great, we won’t know how things turn out until Apple makes its official announcement at WWDC on June 5.

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