Apple Renames Mixed-Reality Software ‘xrOS’ in Hint of Headset
Apple Inc. is accelerating the development of a mixed-reality headset, the company’s first significant new product category since the Apple Watch, and has renamed the accompanying software in the latest indication of an impending launch.
According to sources familiar with the topic, the business intends to release the headgear as early as next year, complete with a dedicated operating system and app store for third-party apps. According to the insiders who wanted not to be named since the project is still under wraps, the corporation recently changed the name of the operating system from “realityOS” to “xrOS.”
The new software title alludes to the headset’s mixed-reality capabilities. The acronym “XR” refers to extended reality, which includes both augmented and virtual reality. Augmented reality superimposes images and virtual information on top of the actual environment, while virtual reality provides an immersive experience for gaming and viewing videos.
Apple’s foray into the market pits it against Meta Platforms Inc., the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, which is counting on the metaverse partly to reduce its dependency on Apple products. The move is also part of Apple’s ongoing pursuit of the “next great thing.” With the launching of the Apple Watch in 2015, the firm transformed its wearables business into a sector that currently accounts for more than 10% of its revenue, generating $41.2 billion in the previous fiscal year.
Apple’s Cupertino, California-based spokesman refused to comment on the company’s headgear intentions.
Apple’s latest headgear differs from other previous devices from firms such as Meta and HTC Corp. in that it offers both AR and VR technology. However, Meta has a newer headgear, the Quest Pro, that combines the two technologies.
According to the Reports, the mixed-reality operating system will include updated versions of major applications including as Messages and Maps, as well as a software development kit that third parties may use to build their own apps and games. The headgear and its supporting operating system and applications are being created by the company’s Technology Development Group, or TDG, a top-secret branch overseen by CEO Mike Rockwell. Geoff Stahl, a senior engineering manager and almost 24-year Apple veteran who has spearheaded the development of games and graphics software, has supervised the operating system.
According to recent job postings, Apple is trying to build its own 3D-based “mixed-reality universe.” According to those familiar with the company’s intentions, the gadget would provide virtual collaboration capabilities and a VR version of FaceTime, competing with services such as Zoom and Meta’s Horizon Workrooms. To work on the headgear, Apple recently hired the director of engineering for its iWork productivity tools, Notes app, and Apple News.
When Apple first began working on the operating system roughly seven years ago, it was internally nicknamed “realityOS” — or “rOS” for short. Within the corporation, Apple has lately begun referring to the software as “xrOS.” Unlike the more generic-sounding “reality” appellation, the new brand might help Apple claim the emerging mixed-reality sector.
Across the same time as the name change, a shadowy shell business called Deep Dive LLC sought to trademark the brand “xrOS” in numerous countries around the world, including the United States. If Apple is behind the filings, it hints that it is also contemplating adopting “xrOS” as its public product name.
Deep Dive, which was registered in 2017 by yet another shell firm, originally applied for the name in March in Switzerland. Registrations were recently extended to the United Kingdom, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, Ukraine, the Philippines, Australia, Japan, Canada, and the European Union. A law firm representing Deep Dive filed an opposition in September to an unrelated Chinese company’s March US trademark registration for the xrOS brand.
The shell business filed trademark applications for “head-mounted displays” and gadgets that enable “virtual reality and augmented reality experiences.” Last year, the same categories were utilised for the initial trademark of the term “realityOS.”
Apple’s traditional technique for building a brand is to trademark a name via a shell business in numerous different countries, however, the choice to begin in Switzerland is slightly out of character. Apple frequently registers trademarks in countries such as Jamaica, Liechtenstein, and Trinidad & Tobago, where public access to registrations is limited.
For example, Apple registered the name “Dynamic Island” for the iPhone 14 Pro in Jamaica. However, its applications for “Reality One” and “Reality Pro,” potential names for the headgear, are also visible online, as is the file for “realityOS.” According to sources familiar with the situation, Apple was behind the submissions in both instances.
Even said, there’s no assurance Apple won’t eventually use “realityOS” or another moniker as its consumer-facing brand.
Apple would not be the first to adopt the term “xrOS.” In an odd coincidence, Meta had a team of roughly 300 developers working on a mixed-reality operating system called Meta. However, that business does not seem to be behind the most recent trademark registrations.
For many years, Apple CEO Tim Cook has promoted his interest in augmented reality, and the firm has established a similar framework called ARKit, which allows iPhones and iPads to run AR applications.
Its initial gadget in the field is projected to be far more expensive than current mainstream rivals, with ultra-high-resolution displays for VR and many additional cameras to handle the AR features. It will also include hand-tracking features and a CPU based on the M2 chip, which is used in the company’s most recent Macs.
Apple showcased the gadget to its board of directors earlier this year, indicating progress in development.