Meta reportedly stopped work on a next-generation operating system for its headsets and future glasses, reassigning a team with hundreds of employees who had been working on it.
The Information’s Sylvia Varnham O’Regan reported (subscription required) that Meta disbanded a 300+ person team working on a new operating system code-named “XROS” to power VR headsets and future AR glasses. Late last year Mark Lucovsky, who was a key member of the operating system effort at Meta, jumped ship to Google where he’s now leading efforts to build an AR operating system there. The Information reported that XROS team members were notified the team was disbanded last week after “most work on XROS” stopped last November. According to the report, some members of the team still “haven’t yet found out where they will land.”
We reached out to Meta for comment and received the following response over email.
“We are always evolving our team structures to help us bring great products to market quickly. By embedding more OS engineers directly into our AR and VR teams, we can speed up the development of solutions that are hyper-tuned for each product line. As we’ve said before, there are several technical directions we’re pursuing to build these and we remain committed to building highly specialized systems. We continue to invest and optimize to move fast so we can deliver against the aggressive goals we’ve set,” a Meta company spokesperson wrote.
Meta’s current operating system for the Quest standalone VR headset is based on the open source core of Google’s Android, which is used globally on a majority of phones. Co-opting the system allows Quest headsets to run traditional flatscreen Android apps and provides the basic structure of an operating system for its headsets without requiring the company start from scratch. At the same time, using Android may hamper Meta’s ability to fundamentally reshape personal computing in its own image — a key goal outlined by the company’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Meta recently reported the first-ever dip in user numbers for legacy social networking services like Facebook while simultaneously reporting its Reality Labs division is now seeing revenue measured in billions annually. Zuckerberg, meanwhile, has warned investors its costs to invest in VR and AR technologies are likely to begin at $10 billion annually. While the company works to develop next generation technologies, like cellular-enabled VR and AR headsets, it has also been on a years-long hiring spree as it competes for talent with other tech giants like Apple.