Table of Contents
The upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June is expected to be a groundbreaking event for Apple, as the company is anticipated to unveil its long-awaited headset featuring virtual and augmented reality capabilities. However, alongside the hardware, Apple is also set to announce the underlying software platform for the device, known as xrOS. This marks Apple’s first significant software platform release since the introduction of watchOS for the Apple Watch.
xrOS offers a range of revolutionary features tailored for the “Reality Pro” headset. These include immersive media consumption, macOS integration, and more to enhance the overall user experience.
The Meaning Behind xrOS
Initially referred to as “Reality Pro RealityOS,” Apple reportedly renamed the software to xrOS towards the end of last year as it approached its public release. According to Bloomberg, xrOS is believed to stand for “augmented reality,” aligning with Apple’s vision of ensuring that the headset doesn’t isolate users entirely from the outside world. For instance, the Reality Pro headset is rumored to feature outward-facing cameras, allowing users to maintain awareness of their surroundings.
Apple has already registered several trademarks for xrOS worldwide in anticipation of the Reality Pro headset’s announcement. While there is still a possibility of Apple opting for a different name like “realityOS,” current indications strongly suggest that xrOS will be the company’s final choice.
Features of xrOS
xrOS is the interface through which users and developers interact with the Reality Pro headset. Like iOS for iPhones and macOS for Macs, xrOS will power Apple’s highly anticipated VR/AR device. The software will receive regular updates, introduce new features and improvements, and host an app store for third-party developers.
Apple has ambitious plans for the first version of the Reality Pro headset and xrOS software. Reports suggest various applications, including gaming, sports viewing, media consumption (TV shows and movies), fitness and meditation experiences, and more.
One key question concerns the interaction methods with xrOS and the Reality Pro headset. Apple will emphasize voice input through Siri and facilitate interaction with nearby iPhones, iPads, or Macs. However, Siri reportedly presented challenges for the development team, leading them to explore alternative voice control methods for the headset.
Integration with iPad apps is also part of Apple’s strategy to expand the available library on xrOS. Users of the Reality Pro headset will purportedly gain access to existing iPad apps through the xrOS interface. This means that even if developers have not specifically adapted their apps for virtual reality, users can still enjoy their favorite iPad apps within the headset.
For Mac users, xrOS will reportedly support interaction with macOS, allowing the Reality Pro headset to function as a display for their Mac. This integration will enable users to view and interact with their Mac’s interface in virtual reality using traditional input methods like trackpads, mice, and keyboards.
According to reports, xrOS will allow users to create augmented reality (AR) “apps” using Siri without requiring extensive coding knowledge. This feature resembles the offerings of other headsets, such as the Quest, which provide users with tools to create three-dimensional environments without needing advanced programming skills.
Time for FaceTime and a Glimpse into the Future
A significant aspect of the initial version of xrOS will be the integration of FaceTime communication. Apple has reportedly developed a new iteration of FaceTime tailored explicitly for the Reality Pro headset. This enhanced FaceTime version aims to realistically display users’ faces and entire bodies in virtual reality, further enhancing the immersive experience.
Another notable feature of xrOS is the ability to seamlessly switch between augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) modes. In VR mode, xrOS provides a fully immersive experience. However, users can transition to AR mode gradually by utilizing a Digital Crown-style switch on the Reality Pro headset. This functionality enables users to seamlessly blend virtual and natural environments, enhancing their awareness of the surrounding world.
Additional Features and Exciting Possibilities
Reports suggest that xrOS will encompass many features beyond the initial version. These include health and wellness capabilities, immersive storytelling through books, and virtual versions of popular apps like Safari, Photos, Mail, Messages, App Store, and Apple TV. Moreover, xrOS is expected to deliver an immersive audio and video experience, incorporating technologies like Dolby Atmos.
Furthermore, Apple aims to create an incredibly realistic feel for professional users, enabling them to watch movies on a dedicated screen in virtual environments like deserts or outer space. Productivity features like Keynote, Pages, and Numbers are also expected to be supported, adding versatility to the headset’s applications.
Looking Ahead to WWDC and Beyond
At the upcoming WWDC, Apple will offer numerous sessions and labs for developers to gain insights into xrOS. These resources will guide developers on creating apps for the headset, porting existing apps to the platform, and best practices for virtual reality design. Apple acknowledges that compromises were made to launch the initial version of the Reality Pro headset and xrOS. The company is expected to make improvements based on user feedback swiftly.
On June 5, during the highly anticipated WWDC event, Apple will unveil xrOS alongside the Reality Pro headset and provide updates on existing software platforms such as iOS 17, macOS 14, tvOS 17, watchOS 10, and more. The event promises to offer an exciting glimpse into the future of Apple’s VR/AR ecosystem, showcasing the potential of xrOS and its transformative impact on how users interact with technology.
As the countdown to WWDC begins, enthusiasts and developers eagerly await the official introduction of xrOS, anticipating the endless possibilities it will unlock within virtual and augmented reality.