Apple is developing a mixed reality AR/VR headset that's set to launch in less than a year, if rumors are to be believed. With new hardware comes new software, and Apple is working on a headset operating system that is set to be called xrOS.
This guide aggregates everything that we know about the xrOS operating system that will run on the upcoming AR/VR headset. We'll update this guide over time as we learn more about xrOS.
Apple will call the software that runs on its AR/VR headset "xrOS," which is meant to stand for "extended reality." Extended reality represents both the augmented and virtual reality functions the headset will support.
The name has been confirmed by internal Apple sources and also, Apple has been trademarking the xrOS through a hidden shell company.
Apple internally called the headset software "Reality OS" or "rOS" when it was in development, but as launch approaches, decided to update the public name to the less generic "xrOS" name.
Apple sees the headset as a device for gaming, watching streaming video content, and video conferencing and interfacing with other people, and that will be what Apple focuses on in terms of software. Gurman has described the headset as an "all-encompassing 3D environment" designed for gaming, media consumption, and communication.
FaceTime will be an important communication app for xrOS, incorporating existing features like SharePlay and Memojis/Animojis. With SharePlay, headset wearers could watch TV shows and movies together, and use Memoji and Animoji as their virtual avatars. With all of the cameras that the headset is expected to have, it will likely detect facial expressions and work like Animoji and Memoji on the iPhone and iPad.
Core apps like Messages will be available on the AR/VR headset in addition to FaceTime, though how the Messages app will work isn't known at this time. One rumor has suggested that Apple is creating a whole new version of Messages with chat rooms, support for video clips, a home view, and more.
The Maps app will be available on the headset, but we don't have additional information on what the Maps app might be capable of. It could perhaps incorporate some of Apple's Look Around and landmark functionality, allowing users to explore cities around the world.
Games are a key feature on the iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV, and the AR/VR headset is also expected to support a range of games. Apple Arcade, for example, could expand to include AR/VR games that are available on the headset.
The Mac, iPhone, Apple TV, and Apple Watch all have their own dedicated App Stores for downloading apps, and the AR/VR headset is also expected to get its own App Store.
Streaming Video Content
Apple's hiring suggests that Apple is developing a video service for the headset, which will include 3D content that can be played in virtual reality. Apple may also be partnering with third-party services to create content that can be watched in VR.
xrOS Launch Date
With the AR/VR headset on track to debut at some point in 2023, likely in the first half of the year, that's also when we expect to see the first version of xrOS. Apple could perhaps introduce xrOS and the headset at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June, but there's also a chance that it could come out before then.
More on Apple's AR/VR Headset
The mixed reality headset that Apple has in the works will have high-resolution displays, more than a dozen cameras, a powerful Mac-level chip, and more, with full details available in our AR/VR headset roundup.