Apple's Next Big App Redesign Could Come Alongside Headset Launch
Apple's next big app redesign could focus on the Messages app, in a major update that could be released alongside its long-awaited mixed-reality headset device next year.
According to a recent report from the Twitter leaker known as "Majin Bu," Apple is working on a completely new version of iMessage, featuring a new home view, chat rooms, video clips, and more. The overhauled app apparently offers "new chat features in AR" and, as such, it "should" be released next year alongside Apple's headset.
Earlier this year, iOS 16 introduced a range of new features for the Messages app, including the ability to edit or delete a recently sent message, mark conversations as unread, and collaboration invitations and activity updates, so further iteration on the app next year seems plausible – especially if it is linked to the launch of Apple's headset.
Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, who often reveals accurate insights into Apple's plans, has said that the company's mixed-reality headset will focus on gaming, media consumption, and communication. He believes that features like Memojis and SharePlay could be central to the experience. iOS 16 brought SharePlay to Messages for the first time, making it possible for multiple users to enjoy synced content like movies or songs with shared playback controls while chatting. This would presumably provide a convenient experience for initiating SharePlay sessions in the Messages app on Apple's headset.
The headset itself is rumored to run an entirely new operating system called "rOS" or "realityOS." Apple's work on realityOS has been rumored since 2017, but the existence of the operating system was finally confirmed earlier this year when references to it were found in App Store upload logs and Apple open source code. realityOS will probably feature versions of many of Apple's existing apps, so a wider revitalization of the Messages app seems believable, particularly if the app will be vital to collaborative experiences on the device.
Majin Bu has revealed some accurate information about Apple's plans in the past, particularly with regards to cases and color options, and shared the rumor of a 14.1-inch iPad before display analyst and heavyweight Apple leaker Ross Young did. That being said, their reputation with regards to software is much more variable. In March, Majin Bu shared information about a new smart multitasking system for iPadOS that would be exclusive to M1 iPads. It is unclear whether this information was legitimate since, in retrospect, it could have referred to an early version of what is now known to be Stage Manager.