Report: Apple AR Headset Coming In 2020 With Brand New OS

by Jamie Feltham • November 8th, 2017

Apple’s ARKit marks the start of a long journey for the company’s work with augmented reality technology, but the long-rumored AR headset the company may be working on may still be years away from release.

A new report from Bloomberg claims that Apple is aiming to have its AR headset ready in 2019 and possibly start shipping it in 2020. Citing sources “familiar with the situation”, the report notes that this headset will feature a brand new display and run on a new chip and fresh operating system instead of the iOS mobile platform that currently runs ARKit. This new OS is apparently dubbed ‘rOS’ internally, which stands for ‘reality opertaing system’.

As for input, the company is allegedly experimenting with touch panels, voice activation serviced by Siri and head gestures.

Current prototype apps include virtual meeting rooms and even 360 degree video playback, both of which sound better suited to VR rather than AR. It’s unclear if this device will support VR in any way, but the report does state that the company is using the HTC Vive for testing and that a device similar to Oculus and Samsung’s Gear VR using iPhone components is also being used (though isn’t intended to be sold).

It’s no surprise to see Apple working on such a device; patents have suggested the company would be taking this path for a while now.

In the gap between now and release, Apple apparently intends to release a new version of ARKit with better software tools that make AR development much easier next year. This will even include multi-user support.

If true, Apple’s timeline seems to fall in line with the current state of other AR headsets. Microsoft’s HoloLens, for example, is available as a development kit, but we’re still no closer to seeing the consumer version than we were when it was revealed two years ago. Florida-based Magic Leap, meanwhile, is rumored to be releasing an early version of its mysterious headset within the next few months.

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  • VR Geek

    If Apple and Microsoft with their extremely deep pockets are not ready to release AR, then there is no hope Magic Leap has anything useful beyond a new way to generate the visuals. Sort of like when Oculus released the DK1. It was the first tech to demonstrate that consumer VR was here, but there was little you could do with it as the ecosystem was absent and here we are 4 years later and it is still early days in its development. I suspect whatever Apple releases in 2020, it will be similar to the original iPhone ecosystem which took another 2 years to really start rocking. That means 2022-2023 before VR/AR are starting to hit mainstream. Certainly by 2030, the world of VR and AR is going to be very very different and trending in who knows what direction. We live in an interesting time in human history.

    • Rothgarr

      Makes me wish that in Ready Player One, the Oasis didn’t come online in 2012. I wish Cline had written it so that it didn’t come online until somewhere in the 2020s at least.

    • Ted Joseph

      I will be 60 when it starts to flourish in 2030… Sucks… Although I loved growing up in the 80’s, I wish I was born later on…

      • VR Geek

        I will be 57 myself but given all the health tech coming due to the exponential growth of tech, that will be at less than halfway through my life. 🙂

  • Major Plonquer

    Apple is panicking – they were completely caught off-guard by HoloLens while Magic Leap if nothing else has confirmed the product category will be mainstream. Apple tried to catch up by acquiring companies but they’re still the better part of 5 years behind he curve. Don’t forget Apple spends FAR less on R&D than either Google or Microsoft and counts on their brand loyalty instead.

    • Apple bought Primesense in late 2013! In the past 3 years, primesense has been working on miniaturising its technology to the point that its now known as the iPhone X Notch. The kinect has the same tech in it but it was the size of landline phone. Some of the other companies that Apple has spent millions on, SensoMotoric an Eye-tracking company, Flyby Media an AR company, Metaio an AR company, LuxVue a company that makes some of the best Micro LED displays.

      Apple is playing the long game with this new tech. Microsoft has succeeded in being first (again), Google attempted a smart glasses device which failed. Samsung and Facebook are staying clear and hoping people enjoy VR. Magic Leap is still waiting to perfect their marketing strategy. Apple hopefully perfect its system, taking in important feedback from early devices but others, and then storm the market like they did with Mac, iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch.

  • Ted Joseph

    I previously thought that Apple would never catch up to Oculus, Microsoft, Google, etc, but I now realize that we live in a world where the best tech (no matter when it comes out) will sell like hot cakes. Notice the word BEST. If it is the best, people will go into debt just to get it. So I have a feeling that Apple will come out with something amazing, and it will do extremely well… It sucks we have to wait so long…

    • craylon

      Actually I think event tough it sucks to wait I see that Apple plans are quite realistic.
      If they want to produce displays that are not of the shelf smartphone displays they probably have to create a completely new production process.
      Also that leaves them 2 years to push and push their ARKit on the phones to actually have something usefull once the glasses launch.

  • Deleted Smith

    2020????? Are you kidding me. That’s like 10 years in the fast pace computer age. Can’t you just steal something from Samsung like you always do and hurry up…. JK.. I hate apple. They don’t innovate anymore. Being smaller and lighter might please the sheeple but my wallet stays closed to them. Glad to see the Apple 10 has a samsung screen. That’s progress!

  • Is this before or after the Apple car and 60 inch Apple Television set?