Report: Apple’s upcoming VR and AR operating system has a new name

An early augmented reality demo from Apple, using a smartphone instead of a headset.
Enlarge / An early augmented reality demo from Apple, using a smartphone instead of a headset.

Apple’s mixed reality headset is still on track for a reveal sometime next year, and the future operating system has a new name, according to a report released Thursday.

Bloomberg claims that the name of the operating system has been changed from the previously leaked “realityOS” to “xrOS”. XR stands for extended reality – sometimes referred to as mixed reality – a common collective term for both virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), as well as experiences that combine aspects of both.

Reports and leaks so far say that Apple’s next upcoming headset is an XR headset, not strictly a VR or AR headset, although there are also rumors of an AR-focused device to launch later. The headset is slated to launch sometime next year, though it’s been delayed many times before and may be again.

Bloomberg cites people familiar with the matter as saying that Apple has begun to refer to the software internally by the xrOS name. Furthermore, a shell company called Deep Dive LLC has registered trademarks for the brand in some regions. The filings specify that the trademark covers “head-mounted displays” and “virtual reality and augmented reality experiences.”

Apple has previously used this kind of shell company to file trademarks before unveiling the product.

Not much is known about xrOS except that it will include XR versions of many well-known Apple apps such as FaceTime, News, Notes, Maps, and Messages. Apple is also working on some form of mixed reality world, which may be in some ways (but certainly not in all ways) akin to Meta’s Horizon Worlds and the widely hyped metaverse concept popular with many startups and venture capitalists.

As for the hardware, it is believed to have several sensors both inside and out and a very high resolution screen compared to most competing devices. It will run on a chip related to the M2 found in recent Macs. Some reports have said it looks a bit like ski goggles, suggesting it might be a smaller and less cumbersome headset than the Meta Quest or many other current VR headsets.

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