Apple has been working on a VR/AR headset for years now, secretly inside its skunkworks. But the fact that it is referenced inside iOS 16 means a launch is likely inside the next 12 months…
The metaverse, whether you care or not, is happening. Emperor Zuck even renamed his company to reflect its changing direction. Facebook is no longer a social media company. It is now focused on creating a new, digital reality with its own currency and rules – what could possibly go wrong?
Apple, as always, has been watching from the sidelines, taking notes, doing its research, and weighing up the pros and cons of the apparently incoming metaverse explosion. It’s no secret that Apple has been working on both VR and AR headsets for a considerable amount of time. But this is the first time we’ve actually seen references to it inside a build of iOS.
And that is telling. If Apple’s VR headset is mentioned inside iOS 16, this means the VR headset will be iOS 16 compatible which, in turn, means – theoretically, of course – that it will launch inside iOS 16’s life cycle which runs from the end of 2022 to the end of 2023. The references found inside iOS 16 even mention how the VR headset will interact with iPhone . It’s all very, very telling.
Apple’s VR Headset To Launch In 2022/23?
The reference to Apple’s VR headset was spotted by Mark Gurman, the current source of ALL iOS 16 news on the web. According to Gurman, Apple is keen on getting its rOS – realityOS – out in the open and in the hands of developers. Its inclusion inside iOS 16 could indicate that Apple wants to demo its new VR platform at WWDC 2022 which kicks off in June.
That indicates that the headset will launch during the iOS 16 cycle, which kicks off in June and will last until iOS 17 comes in the fall of 2023. But it may also suggest that Apple could preview some of its upcoming augmented and virtual reality software earlier . Perhaps we could even get a peek at the headset’s rOS, short for reality operating system.
The Apple Metaverse…
Apple has been working in this area since 2017; developing brand new products and operating systems takes time. Now, five years later, it appears that Apple is getting ready to finally unveil its vision for how the Apple Metaverse will work. I imagine it will be very similar to iPhone, meaning it will be a walled garden, an exclusive club, if you will, for iPhone users that buy an Apple VR headset.
I’d also assume that there will be plenty of crossover with iPhone. You might even NEED an iPhone to access Apple’s metaverse, as well as a headset. Right now, no one knows much about what Apple has planned. But the fact that its VR headset is mentioned inside iOS 16’s source code tells me that we probably won’t have to wait too much longer to find out either.
Apple is preparing to release a premium headset for VR and AR with high resolution color passthrough. Recent notes from Kuo claim this headset will weigh significantly less than Meta’s Quest 2, feature dual 4K OLED microdisplays, and use a new chip with similar computing power as the M1 for Mac
Beyond this, nothing else is known about Apple’s plans for its own VR and AR ecosystem. But given Apple’s reach into consumers’ pockets, its brand appeal, and its legion of dedicated, motivated developers, I’d wager it stands a far better chance at persuading people that the metaverse is worth their time and money. Personally, I find the whole “metaverse thing” a little silly and, in another sense, creepy and also a little insidious. But that’s just me. I’m old. What do I know?
Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the publisher and owner of KnowYourMobile.