Apple is expected to unveil its new mixed-reality headset, called “Reality Pro,” at the WWDC keynote on June 5. While the headset isn’t actually expected to ship until later this year (and will likely be an expensive, limited-edition item initially), Apple needs to entice potential buyers and developers with exciting experiences.
According to a recent report by Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple is all set to create custom AR/VR versions of its core apps. Most of the uses described in the report are hypothesized, but not yet confirmed in reality. Gurman says some of the company’s engineers are working 80 hours to get the software ready for its June 5 launch.
Generally, every pre-installed app on the iPhone is going to get a custom app for Reality Pro. Applications mentioned in Gurman’s report:
- Photo tool
- Garage Band
- Important note
Many apps are said to be identical to their iPad counterparts. It makes sense—most of these are designed around text or images, so things like “floating iPad app windows with custom controls” feel like the right approach at first.
The report also talks about some of the ways some of these apps will be updated to take better advantage of the headset’s mixed reality capabilities. For example, you can watch video content in a “virtual theater” or other virtual settings, such as the desert or the moon, which may be part of the TV app, as previously reported. The FaceTime app aims to create a digital avatar of users in a virtual meeting room. The Fitness+ app will let you watch a fitness instructor in VR while you exercise, while the Meditation app will offer “continuous graphics, sounds and voiceovers.” The camera will of course let you take photos and videos using the device’s cameras, while the Freeform app will let users collaborate on projects using a virtual whiteboard.
The latter is said to be a big selling point, although other companies have tried to push virtual work collaboration with little success — so far, people are resistant to working and working in VR. Together Still doesn’t look appealing in VR or AR.
Apple is also said to make watching sports a big selling point, with Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer featuring content. The tvOS 16.5 beta introduced a new multi-view feature for gaming, but it’s unclear if it’s part of the AR features.
Gaming is a key category for Reality Pro, in what Gurman says is a reversal from the company’s previous approach. No wonder – it’s one of the best visualizations for VR and AR technology, and the most popular software category for Meta’s Oculus headsets and other competitors.
Gurman said Apple has been “working with a small number of developers for months to help them improve their existing software for mixed reality.” There will still be a gap of several months between announcement and release, which should give time for other developers to come on board.
The headset can run multiple applications simultaneously in floating windows. It remembers where you are when you use them: an example given is that if you open Safari in the kitchen, leave, and then come back, Safari will reappear. While Apple wants as many AR- or VR-optimized apps as possible, the xrOS operating system, based on iOS, can run iPad apps intact or with minimal modification.
In the end, it looks like every Apple app is going to get a headset-optimized version, with some showing an iPad-like UI rather than floating windows, while others use AR and VR capabilities in an integrated way. device. But Apple seems to realize that if it’s going to make this type of device a success, it needs developers all over the place instead of taking a wait-and-see approach.