Apple is set to reveal its highly-anticipated VR/AR headset, codenamed “Reality Pro,” at WWDC in June, along with the introduction of xrOS, a new software platform that will serve as the backbone for the device, marking Apple’s first major software platform since the debut of watchOS for the Apple Watch.
xrOS is poised to revolutionize the Reality Pro headset with groundbreaking features like immersive media experiences and seamless integration with macOS, delivering an unparalleled user experience.
xrOS is rumored to be an acronym for “extended reality,” reflecting Apple’s vision for the headset to provide immersive experiences while still allowing users to remain aware of their surroundings. This is evident in features such as outward-facing cameras on the Reality Pro headset, enabling users to have a view of their environment even while immersed in virtual or augmented reality.
Leading up to the unveiling of the Reality Pro headset, Apple has filed trademark registrations for xrOS across different countries. While there is a possibility of Apple considering alternative names like “realityOS,” the current indications strongly suggest that xrOS will be the chosen name for the software platform accompanying the headset.
Earlier reports from Bloomberg indicate that Apple originally referred to the software for its highly-anticipated Reality Pro headset as realityOS. However, as it approaches its public release, Apple has rebranded the software to xrOS, aligning it more closely with the headset’s immersive and transformative experiences.
xrOS will serve as the foundational software platform that facilitates user and developer interaction with the long-awaited Reality Pro headset from Apple, similar to the way iOS powers the iPhone and macOS drives the Mac. Operating as a dynamic system, xrOS will receive periodic software upgrades, provide access to a marketplace for third-party app developers, and deliver a host of features and enhancements to create an immersive and captivating experience.
Apple has an extensive lineup of features planned for the initial iteration of the Reality Pro headset and the accompanying xrOS software. According to Bloomberg, these ambitious plans encompass a diverse range of activities such as gaming, sports viewing, multimedia entertainment, fitness and wellness activities like meditation, and much more. The aim is to provide users with a multifaceted and immersive experience that transcends traditional boundaries.
The method of interaction with xrOS and the Reality Pro headset has been a subject of considerable speculation. Apple’s primary focus for input revolves around leveraging the power of Siri, its virtual assistant, for voice-based commands and controls. Users will be able to interact with the headset by issuing voice commands and queries to Siri, enabling a hands-free and intuitive experience.
Additionally, Apple aims to provide seamless integration with other devices in its ecosystem. Users will have the ability to connect the Reality Pro headset to their nearby iPhone, iPad, or Mac, allowing for enhanced control and functionality. This integration will likely enable features such as content sharing, device synchronization, and potentially even using the devices as input mechanisms for the headset.
However, it’s worth noting that there have been internal challenges and frustrations with Siri’s performance in the context of the Reality Pro headset. Reports suggest that the development team working on the headset considered exploring alternative methods for voice control due to these frustrations. Apple is actively working on refining Siri’s capabilities and optimizing its performance to ensure a smooth and efficient user experience with xrOS and the Reality Pro headset.
Overall, Apple’s vision for interaction with xrOS and the Reality Pro headset revolves around leveraging voice input through Siri and seamless integration with other Apple devices, providing users with a natural, hands-free, and interconnected experience.
Apple’s strategy to expand the app ecosystem for xrOS includes incorporating iPad apps into the Reality Pro headset experience. According to reports, Apple intends to enable users to access existing iPad apps through the xrOS interface. This innovative approach means that users will have the ability to enjoy their favorite iPad apps on the Reality Pro headset, even if the apps haven’t been specifically optimized for virtual reality usage. By leveraging the extensive library of iPad apps, Apple aims to provide a diverse range of content and experiences to users of the Reality Pro headset, enhancing the overall immersive and interactive capabilities of the device.
According to reports, xrOS is expected to seamlessly integrate with macOS, enabling the Reality Pro headset to function as a virtual display for Mac users. This integration will allow users to view and interact with their Mac’s display in a virtual reality environment, utilizing familiar input methods such as trackpad, mouse, and keyboard. By leveraging this integration, Apple aims to provide Mac users with an immersive and enhanced computing experience, expanding the possibilities of productivity, creativity, and entertainment in the virtual realm.
xrOS is said to incorporate a feature that allows users to create augmented reality (AR) “apps” using Siri, without requiring them to start from scratch. This functionality is akin to what is already available on headsets like Meta’s. For instance, Meta’s Quest headsets feature an app called Horizon Worlds, enabling users to construct 3D environments without the need for coding. By providing a similar capability, Apple aims to empower users to easily develop their own AR experiences and foster creativity within the xrOS ecosystem.
Communication via FaceTime will be a central aspect of the initial version of xrOS, according to Bloomberg. Apple has reportedly developed a new version of FaceTime for the headset that will “realistically render a user’s face and full body in virtual reality.”
Apple’s headset will allow users to toggle via AR and VR modes, which will be a key aspect of the xrOS software as well. When in VR mode, the xrOS experience will be fully immersive. When using the Digital Crown-style toggle on the Reality Pro headset itself, however, xrOS will gradually transition to AR mode to allow users to see the real environment around them.
Additional rumored features for xrOS include a range of health and wellness capabilities, gaming experiences, immersive books and storytelling, VR versions of popular apps like Safari, Photos, Mail, Messages, the App Store, Apple TV, and more. Users can expect immersive video and audio enhancements, including support for Dolby Atmos technology. According to Bloomberg, there may also be a unique feature that allows Reality Pro users to feel like they are watching a movie on a dedicated screen in an alternate world, such as a desert or outer space. Furthermore, xrOS is expected to support productivity features, enabling users to utilize apps like Keynote, Pages, and Numbers for enhanced productivity in the virtual reality environment.
xrOS, the highly anticipated software platform for Apple’s Reality Pro headset, is set to make its debut at the upcoming WWDC event on June 5. Alongside the unveiling of xrOS, Apple will also introduce the long-awaited Reality Pro headset itself, as well as updates to its existing software platforms, including iOS 17, macOS 14, tvOS 17, watchOS 10, and more. The event is expected to be an exciting showcase of Apple’s latest advancements in augmented reality and virtual reality technology, providing users with a glimpse into the future of immersive experiences.