While many VR and AR headsets on the market require a phone to act as a the brains of the operation, Apple wants to launch a standalone AR headset that isn't reliant on your phone to work. In its newest iOS mobile operating system iteration, Apple introduced ARKit, an augmented reality platform that allows apps to overlay three-dimensional graphics on top of real-world viewing through the iPhone and iPad.
Apple has been slowly dipping its toes into AR waters as of late.
Apple publicly demoed a number of odd and exciting augmented reality apps created with its new ARKit developer framework over the last few months. The company does not have a working headset of its own yet, so in the meantime, it has been using the Rift and HTC Vive for testing.
As for the headset, Apple is reportedly developing a system-on-a-package chip specifically for this device.
Apple is specifically pursuing AR instead of VR because the company's leadership considers it "less isolating" than VR. During the company's most recent earnings call, he said that the company believes "AR is going to change the way we use technology forever".
That new operating system, internally called "rOS" for "reality operating system", is based on iOS. Moving that experience to something that lets you keep your hands free will feel more natural and could help push augmented reality into the consumer mainstream. According to Bloomberg, Apple is also designing its own in-house chip to power the AR headset and is also building a new operating system dubbed "rOS" for "reality operating system". There is information that the novelty the company presents in 2020, but because now we are actively working on the development of the device, date of presentation may change.
It certainly sounds like development on an AR headset is starting to come together over at Apple HQ, but we still have some time to wait before it's ready for a reveal.
If everything goes according to plan, Apple's first independent AR headset could produce "virtual meeting rooms and 360-degree video playback" in 2020, as well as support a range of mapping and texting apps accumulated in a dedicated version of the App Store. The mechanisms for launching and interacting these apps - whether via head gestures or through Siri - hasn't yet been decided upon, according to Bloomberg.