Apple's Secret Weapon To Beat Meta In The VR Headset War Is Its xrOS Platform
Like it or not, Apple is preparing to join the mixed-reality bandwagon, possibly this spring, with a device powered by an operating system called xrOS—formerly known as realityOS.
Apple is planning to take on Meta, Sony, and HTC by introducing their virtual headset with a dedicated operating system and app store for third-party apps. The new operating system will be called xrOS, with "xr" denoting extended reality—a combination of virtual reality (gaming, video) and augmented reality (graphical and informational overlay over the real world).
With Meta pushing its Oculus-derived platform, Apple is attempting to create its own unique metaverse. If successful (both technically and marketing-wise), this new XR division could mean big business for Cupertino. Apple has done it before by taking a big market share out of smartphones and smartwatches, and it's possible they might achieve that again.
Apple's extended reality project has been highly secretive with a lot of the project's information coming from anonymous sources within the company, even if the OS itself has been in development for over 5 years. Bloomberg reported that Apple has recently been hiring people to create its own 3D-based mixed-reality world. Even the head of engineering for iWork productivity, Notes, and Apple New app was poached to work on the headset.
Other hints of xrOS's purpose is that there will be virtual collaboration functions via VR-based FaceTime. If that sounds like Meta Horizon Workrooms, you would be right. A major use-case focus of these AR/VR companies is to create more immersive meeting experiences than regular video calls can provide.
While Apple board of directors got to see a preview unit earlier this year, actual availability and launch timeline is still very much uncertain, but you can definitely expect the headset to be expensive with premium build and innards. The Meta Quest Pro tried, but didn't make much of a dent in the market, so it'd be interesting to see what Apple's approach will ultimately be.