Apple is developing a mixed reality AR/VR headset that should 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 it’s rumored to be called realityOS or rOS.
This guide summarizes everything we know about the realityOS operating system that will run on the upcoming AR/VR headset. We will update this guide over time as we learn more about realityOS.
Apple has been working on the software that will run on the AR/VR headset since 2017, and gem Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman, Apple will refer to it as realityOS or rOS. The name will go hand in hand with the name of the headset, which is expected to be either Reality One or Reality Pro.
internally, realityOS is codenamed “Oak” and references to it have been discovered in App Store logs and Apple source code confirming the name.
Apple sees the headset as a device for gaming, watching streaming video content, video conferencing, and communicating with other people, and that’s what Apple will focus 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 a major communication app for rOS, 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 virtual avatars. With all the cameras the headset is expected to have, it will likely recognize 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, although it’s currently unknown how the Messages app will work. Rumor has it that Apple is making a whole new version of Messages with chat rooms, video clip support, a home view and more.
The Maps app will be available on the headset, but we don’t have any additional information on what the Maps app might be capable of. It might include some of Apple’s Look Around and Landmark features, allowing users to explore cities around the world.
Gaming is a key feature on the “iPhone”, “iPad” and Apple TV, and the AR/VR headset is also expected to support a number of games. For example, Apple Arcade could be expanded to include AR/VR games 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 expected to get its own “App Store” as well.
Streaming video content
Apple’s hiring suggests Apple is developing a video service for the headset that will include 3D content playable in virtual reality. Apple may also work with third-party services to create content that can be viewed in VR.
rOS start date
With the AR/VR headset set to launch sometime in 2023, likely in the first half of the year, we’re expecting the first release of realityOS as well. Apple might be able to unveil realityOS and the headset at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June, but there’s also a chance it might come out before then.
More on Apple’s AR/VR headset
The mixed reality headset Apple has in the works will feature high-resolution displays, more than a dozen cameras, a powerful Mac-level chip, and more See our AR/VR headset roundup for full details.