Update: Apple’s operating system for its mixed reality headset is called visionOS, which you can learn everything about it here.
During the WWDC 2023 keynote, Apple is expected to debut xrOS, its operating system for the long-rumored mixed reality headset. If that happens, this will be the first new software Apple brings after the introduction of tvOS and the HomePod operating systems. Here’s what we know about it.
What is Apple going to call its MR headset operating system?
The first generation of Apple’s mixed reality headset will likely be called xrOS. This information comes from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. He says this is the name used internally by Apple, and it would mean something like an “extended reality” operating system.
Lastly, a few days before the WWDC keynote, developer Steve Troughton-Smith was able to fool the App Store Connect so he could send an app made for the unannounced mixed-reality headset to Apple’s system. Although the app got rejected, Troughton-Smith discovered the name of the new operating system for the headset: xrOS.
The developer explains that App Store Connect is using AppleInternal versions of the linker tooling, which already have been updated to recognize xrOS binaries. With that, he triggered an error message that showed the name of this system.
“Incorrect Platform: You included the xros arm64 executable in your ios bundle. Only ios executables can be included,” said the message. Although xrOS and iOS are not capitalized, we could safely assume that this is, in fact, Apple’s upcoming software for the mixed-reality headset.
Since this will be the first generation of the xrOS, it will need to build the foundation of this operating system. That said, Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman recently reported how the Reality Pro headset would work and bring some of the functions we’ll see regarding xrOS.
VR FaceTime Experience: Apple will offer a VR-like FaceTime experience. The one-on-one call will “realistically render a user’s face and full body in virtual reality.” It will make two people communicate and feel like they’re in the same room. Additional users will be displayed as an icon or Memoji.
In-air typing: Apple will offer innovative in-air typing since the Reality Pro won’t have a remote control. Although the first experience won’t be as good as the Cupertino firm wants, users can also use their iPhones to type.
Immersive video watching: A main core of Apple’s upcoming mixed-reality headset will be immersive video watching. Apple is said to be working with Disney, Dolby and bringing its own Apple TV Plus material. According to Gurman, “Apple is planning for the headset to have a dedicated video-watching feature that can make viewers feel like they’re seeing a movie on a giant screen in another environment, such as a desert or outer space.”
Mac Integration: xrOS will integrate with macOS as the Reality Pro headset could work as a Mac display in virtual reality.”
Apple Fitness+: Apple’s fitness service could also come as part of xrOS, which would let users exercise while watching an instructor in VR.
Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro apps: After introducing Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro for the iPad, Gurman believes Apple could be planning a version of these apps for the mixed reality headset.
According to Gurman, xrOS will rely on many applications iPhone users are familiar with. The journalist says xrOS’ “main interface will be nearly identical to that of the iPhone and iPad,” with a home screen with a grid of icons that can be organized. Users will be able to pin widgets.
The xrOS operating system will have an iOS-like interface with MR-optimized versions of Safari, Calendar, Contacts, Files, Home Control, Mail, Maps, Messaging, Notes, Photos, Reminders, Music, News, Stock, and Weather apps.
Bloomberg also reports that Apple is preparing a version of Apple Books that will allow users to read in virtual reality. The recently-launched Freeform collaboration app, which integrates a white canvas for iPhone, iPad, and Mac users, is also expected to launch for the mixed-reality headset as “an effort that [Apple] sees as a major selling point for the product.” Users will be able to work on virtual whiteboards together while in mixed reality, reports Bloomberg.
Interestingly enough, Apple wasn’t planning to focus on gaming with the mixed reality headset. Still, Gurman now says “gaming will be a central piece of the device’s appeal, too,” although it’s unclear if the company plans to take advantage of Apple Arcade or if it will rely on third-party developers to bring MR games to the headset.
xrOS release date
xrOS release date will depend on when Apple plans to announce the mixed-reality headset. Currently, rumors say the Cupertino firm could announce the headset by WWDC 2023 and release it alongside the iPhone 15 in September – or even at a later date.
If the company unveils the headset in June, at least we’ll know some of the xrOS features and its proper name. WWDC 2023 will take place on June 5.
Although Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says the company could delay the announcement of the headset during WWDC because it will take a bit more to mass produce the Reality Pro headset, there’s still a chance that we see a preview of this software in June as Apple has already previewed a product and then took a few more months to release it.
xrOS device compatibility
This operating system will be compatible with Apple’s unannounced mixed-reality headset.