With 2022 ending on a somewhat quiet note with just one fall event, all eyes are on 2023. But new Macs, iPads, and iPhones might not be the star of 2023. Instead, a new report suggests Apple is readying an entirely new ecosystem.
According to Bloomberg, Apple is “ramping up work on a mixed-reality headset” that is due to finally launch in the new year. Along with the hardware, which has managed to avoid major leaks so far, 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 had previously reported that Apple’s OS was being developed under the realityOS name, 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 constitute 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 & Trademark Office, Apple has described a “Self-Mixing Interferometry-Based Input Device” or an Apple Ring. As spotted by Patently Apple, Apple describes the system as an “SMI-based gesture input system including at least one of a wearable device or a handheld device.”
Such a system would obviously work extremely well in conjunction with a headset. Apple also shows the Ring working with an Apple Pencil for AR applications. An Apple Ring would also presumably have health features that work independently from a headset as well, similar to the Oura Smart Ring that tracks sleep, readiness, and activity.
Work on Apple’s mixed-reality “metaverse” has been steadily ramping up, with rumors pointing to a 2023 launch. The headset will reportedly feature a pair of 8K displays and an M1 processor, and come with a hefty price tag. But if the rumors of a new platform and ecosystem are true, the price and the wait will be worth the investment.