As 2022 ends on a somewhat quiet note with just one fall event, all eyes are on 2023. But the new Macs, iPads and iPhones might not be the star of 2023. Instead, a new report suggests that Apple is preparing a whole new ecosystem.
According to Bloomberg, Apple is “accelerating work on a mixed reality headset” that should finally launch in the new year. Besides hardware, which has so far managed to avoid major leaks, Apple is working on a new dedicated operating system called xrOS, as well as an xrOS App Store for third-party software. Like iOS and macOS, the new name suggests the platform is a major component of the headset.
Bloomberg previously reported that Apple’s operating system was being developed as realityOS, but the new xrOS branding suggests Apple has bigger plans for the ecosystem. Bloomberg notes that “xr” stands for extended reality, which encompasses both virtual and augmented reality devices and applications. Like iOS and macOS, xrOS will likely be a full platform of devices with features that complement each other and Apple’s other devices.
One of the xrOS devices will surely be a headset – or possibly two if Apple continues to separate its products into Pro and non-Pro models – but another could be something a little smaller and even more personal. In a patent filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Apple described an “automatically mixing interferometry-based input device” or Apple Ring. As spotted by Patently Apple, Apple describes the system as an “SMI-based gesture input system comprising at least one handheld device or handheld device.”
Such a system would obviously work extremely well in conjunction with a helmet. Apple is also showing off the Ring working with an Apple Pencil for AR apps. An Apple Ring would also presumably have health features that work independently of a headset, similar to the Oura Smart Ring which tracks sleep, readiness and activity.
Work on Apple’s mixed reality ‘metaverse’ has steadily intensified, with rumors pointing to a 2023 launch. The headset is said to feature a pair of 8K displays and an M1 processor, and its price would be high. But if the rumors of a new platform and ecosystem are true, the price and the wait are worth it.