Apple May Launch Augmented Reality Headset With Custom 'rOS' Operating System by 2020

Apple is ramping up development of an augmented reality headset that will have its own display and run on a new chip and operating system, according to well-connected Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman.

A fanciful mockup of digital glasses via TechAcute

Apple aims to have technology ready for the headset by 2019, and could ship a product as early as 2020, the report claims. But the development timeline is said to be "very aggressive" and could still change.

The headset's custom operating system, based on iOS, is reportedly dubbed "rOS" for "reality operating system."

Just as tvOS powers the Apple TV, macOS runs on Macs and watchOS runs on Apple Watches, "rOS" will power Apple’s AR headset. Geoff Stahl, formerly a software manager for games and graphics at Apple, is one of the directors of the "rOS" software group.

Apple hasn't finalized how users will control the headset and launch apps, but it is investigating touchscreens, Siri voice activation, and head gestures as it creates prototypes, according to the report.

Engineers are prototyping a range of applications, from mapping and texting to more advanced features including virtual meeting rooms and 360-degree video playback. The company has discussed pairing the headset with its own version of the App Store, where users would be able to download content, just as they do with the iPhone, Watch, Apple TV and Mac.

Apple software engineers are said to be using HTC Vive headsets, while working on a device similar to an Oculus Gear VR headset that uses an iPhone's display and other hardware, both for internal testing purposes only.

An augmented reality headset is one of several hardware and software projects that a team of Apple software engineers are supposedly working on under the umbrella code name of "T288" in Cupertino and Sunnyvale.

The same team was behind ARKit, which provides developers with tools to create augmented reality apps for iPhones and iPads.

Gurman previously reported that Apple was considering a pair of smart glasses that would connect wirelessly to an iPhone, much like the Apple Watch, and display "images and other information" to the wearer.

The Financial Times has also reported about Apple experimenting with "several different kinds" of wearable augmented reality prototypes, as it tries to figure out the "most compelling application" for a headset.

Apple CEO Tim Cook alluded to any headset being at least a few years away during a recent interview about augmented reality.

"Today I can tell you that the technology itself doesn't exist to do that in a quality way," Cook said. "We don't give a rats about being first, we want to be best in creating people's experiences. Something that you would see out in the market any time soon would not be something that any of us would be satisfied with."

Related Roundup: Apple Glasses

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
33 months ago
CAN WE JUST GET IOS TO WORK BEFORE THEY CREATE A 4TH OS!
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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33 months ago
eyeOS
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
33 months ago
It would be funny to have to upgrade my glasses every year. My last upgrade was 4 years ago.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
33 months ago
How about that Mac Mini Tim? Or that new new Mac Pro? How are they going?
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
33 months ago

Would be pretty huge for location data. Showing stores and info about the stores as you walk past. Food places and others too. I could see it being pretty big for augmented reality maps.
They’ve showed this with phones before

Just gonna leave this here.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
33 months ago

What in holy hell... This is beyond obnoxious, like being trapped in a video game arcade or pachinko parlor. Hopefully Apple's implementation would be a lot more peaceful and relaxing. This is full-out assault on the eyes and ears.

It’s like visiting certain tech magazine sites without ad blocker turned on.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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