Xcode 11 GM Confirms Apple's Work on AR Headset
Code found in the golden master version of Xcode 11 confirms that Apple is working on an augmented reality headset of some kind, and perhaps planned to announce it at the event but scrapped the debut last minute.
9to5Mac's Guilherme Rambo and developer Steve Troughton-Smith found that Xcode 11 features an ARDisplayDevice framework with references to codenamed Apple headsets that are in development, including Franc, Luck, and Garta (which pertains to HoloKit, a third-party device).
References to these names were previously discovered in iOS 13 code alongside a STARTester app able to switch in and out of a head-mounted mode, replicating the functionality of an augmented reality headset on an iPhone for testing purposes.
StarBoard frameworks on iOS 13 now. StarBoard is Apple’s system shell for stereo augmented reality apps (headset). Guess secrecy is out? pic.twitter.com/XTnlqQgpHh — Steve Troughton-Smith (@stroughtonsmith) September 10, 2019
The GameController framework in iOS 13 also has a gamepad profile for a device meant to be used while using stereo AR apps. The controller profile has a clicky trackpad, a trigger button, and a system (home?) button. Handheld controller for Apple's headset? 🤔 — Steve Troughton-Smith (@stroughtonsmith) September 10, 2019
It seems very much like Stereo AR apps are an app extension type you can include in your iOS app bundle, if you have the entitlements. One imagines that when Apple's headset is attached, it has a dashboard of some kind that shows you your available Stereo AR apps (like CarPlay) — Steve Troughton-Smith (@stroughtonsmith) September 10, 2019
The iOS 13 GM also comes with a readme file (!) for how employees can run Stereo AR apps on an iPhone when you don't have access to Apple's headset 😳 pic.twitter.com/SeZEHW8p0S — Steve Troughton-Smith (@stroughtonsmith) September 10, 2019
iOS 13.1 beta 3 and iOS 13.0 GM include the new StarBoard system shell, to run stereo AR apps. Is this real life? https://t.co/TxaX0un1dk pic.twitter.com/9LRuvIIzyc — Guilherme Rambo (@_inside) September 11, 2019
There was also a reference to a StarBoard system shell for stereo AR-enabled apps, which has also been located in the Xcode 11 GM by developer Steve Troughton-Smith, along with a ReadMe file that specifically references an Apple "HME" headset.
It's not entirely clear what Apple is working on, but as 9to5Mac outlined last week, the stereo augmented reality data found in the iOS 13 and Xcode 11 GM code references support for a face-mounted AR experience said to be more similar to Google's Daydream than a pair of smart glasses.
The fact that Apple left this code in the Xcode 11 GM suggests that it was perhaps something that the company originally planned to talk about today, though it's not known if that is indeed the case.