RealityOS: Everything we know about the software designed for Apple’s Mixed Reality headset

Apple is developing a mixed reality AR/VR headset that, if the rumors are to be believed, will hit the market in less than a year. With new hardware comes new software, and Apple is working on an operating system for headsets that will be called realityOS or rOS.


This guide compiles 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.

rOS

Apple has been working on the software that will run on the AR/VR headset since 2017, and according to Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman, Apple will refer to it as realityOS or rOS. The name will go along with the name of the headset, which is expected to be Reality One or Reality Pro.

realityOS is codenamed “Oak” internally, and references to it have been discovered in App Store logs and Apple source code, confirming the name.

Software targets

Apple sees the headset as a device for gaming, watching streaming video content, video conferencing, and interacting with other people, which is what Apple is focusing on in terms of software. Gurman has described the headset as an “all-encompassing 3D environment” designed for gaming, media consumption and communication.

FaceTime

FaceTime will be an important communication app for rOS, with existing features such as SharePlay and Memojis/Animojis. SharePlay allowed headset wearers to watch TV shows and movies together and use Memoji and Animoji as their virtual avatars. With all the cameras the headset is expected to have, it will likely detect facial expressions and work like Animoji and Memoji on the iPhone and iPad.

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Messages

Core apps like Messages will be available on the AR/VR headset alongside ‌FaceTime‌, but how the Messages app will work is unknown at this time. Apple is rumored to be making an all-new version of Messages with chat rooms, support for video clips, a home view, and more.

General app messages

Cards

The Maps app will be available on the headset, but we have no additional information on what the Maps app might be capable of. It could perhaps include some of Apple’s Look Around and landmark functionality, allowing users to explore cities around the world.

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Spell

Games are an important part of the ‌iPhone‌, ‌iPad‌ and Apple TV, and the AR/VR headset is also expected to support a range of games. For example, Apple Arcade could be expanded with AR/VR games available on the headset.

App Store

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 have its own ‌App Store‌ as well.

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Streaming video content

Apple’s hiring suggests that Apple is developing a video service for the headset, which will include 3D content that can be played in virtual reality. Apple may also partner with third-party services to create content that can be viewed in VR.

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rOS launch date

With the AR/VR headset on track to debut sometime in 2023, likely in the first half of the year, we’re also expecting to see the first version of realityOS. Apple might be able to introduce realityOS and the headset at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June, but there’s also a chance it might be out before then.

More about Apple’s AR/VR headset

The mixed reality headset Apple has in the works will have high-resolution screens, more than a dozen cameras, a powerful Mac chip and more, with full details available in our roundup of AR/VR headsets.

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