It’s unclear exactly when Apple’s AR/VR headset will make its big debut. But based on a new report, we have a better idea of what Apple plans to call the software powering the headset.
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman (opens in a new tab) reports that Apple has changed the name of its virtual reality operating system to xrOS. The new name replaces realityOS, which was floated as a possible name earlier this year when a trademark for the moniker surfaced.
Gurman’s report, which cites “people with knowledge of the matter,” reveals more than Apple’s internal debate over what to call the software that will ship with its headset. This seemingly confirms the feature set of the headset itself.
Apple’s initial foray into the virtual space is believed to be a headset that will support both virtual reality and augmented reality. The former describes more immersive experiences that place you in a virtual world, while the latter overlays graphics and information onto the real world in front of you. This approach is often referred to as mixed reality, or XR for short—which is why Apple apparently adopted the name xrOS.
By embracing mixed reality, the Apple-created headset could allow users to check mail, see notifications float in front of them, and get directions superimposed on their field of vision without cutting off the rest of the world. The headset could also serve as a place for more immersive apps, though Apple is reportedly not focusing on gaming as much as the Meta is with some of its VR headsets.
Gurman describes the move to the xrOS name as another sign that Apple is getting closer to a release date for the long-rumored headset. Rumors are tipping the headset for a 2023 release, though it’s unclear if that would be earlier this year or not.
Apple’s spring events usually feature new Macs and iPads, although it has occasionally been known to introduce a new iPhone SE model in the early months of the new year. However, a product like Apple’s headset would seem a better choice for Apple’s annual developer conference, especially if Apple wants to get xrOS into the hands of app makers to create software to support the new device.
It’s just speculation on our part, but we could easily see Apple’s VR/AR headset and its accompanying xrOS software getting a preview at the Worldwide Developers Conference, traditionally held in June. A full launch is expected later in the year. This is a pattern that Apple has used when entering a new product category in the past, such as with the debut of the iPhone in 2010 and the launch of the Apple Watch in 2015.
xrOS would support more than just Apple’s headset. The company is also reportedly working on Apple Glass smart glasses, though those aren’t expected until 2024 at the earliest.