xrOS Revealed: A Comprehensive Guide to Apple's AR/VR Headset Software and What to Expect

The imminent arrival of the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple's annual event centered around developers and software, is just a few days away. As in previous years, Apple is anticipated to unveil significant updates to its operating systems. However, this year's WWDC is expected to hold a unique surprise: the introduction of xrOS, the software set to power Apple's long-rumored AR/VR mixed-reality headset. Let's delve into what we can expect from this exciting development.

xrOS: Decoding the Name

While Apple has yet to publicly acknowledge the existence of its headset, reliable sources within the company have disclosed that the operating system will be named xrOS. Apple has even employed concealed shell companies to secure trademarks for this name across different countries.

The moniker "xrOS" reflects the essence of "extended reality," alluding to the immersive augmented and virtual reality experiences at the core of this head-mounted device. Additionally, Apple adheres to its established naming conventions by capitalizing the acronym similarly to its other operating systems within its ecosystem.

According to Mark Gurman's report for Bloomberg, Apple envisions the headset as a versatile tool for gaming, streaming video content, video conferencing, promoting health and fitness, and facilitating social interaction. Consequently, xrOS will prioritize providing an exceptional platform for delivering these diverse forms of content.

xrOS User Interface

The interface of xrOS is anticipated to bear resemblance to iOS, providing a familiar experience for iPhone and iPad users. However, it will be presented in a completely fresh manner, offering unique interactions. A dedicated Home Screen will be featured, housing customizable widgets and apps that can be effortlessly rearranged. These elements will be showcased on dual high-resolution 4K micro OLED displays, boasting an impressive density of up to 3,000 pixels per inch. This will create a visually captivating and lifelike viewing environment.

To enhance user interaction, a multitude of optical cameras will track the movements of both hands and eyes. Users will have the ability to select on-screen items simply by looking at them, and activating an item can be accomplished through hand gestures, such as a pinch, directly on the screen.

Moreover, the innovative ‌xrOS‌ software has the potential to project augmented reality (AR) app interface elements onto real-world objects, resulting in a captivating mixed-reality overlay effect.

Apple is also reportedly developing an in-air typing feature, which may initially have basic functionality upon its release. However, the company is expected to continuously enhance and refine this feature over time.


The foundation of xrOS will revolve around redesigned iterations of stock Apple applications such as Safari, Photos, Messages, Maps, Apple TV+, Apple Music, Podcasts, Reminders, and Calendar. Additionally, a customized FaceTime application will be tailored specifically for the headset. The Maps app will incorporate Apple's Look Around and landmark features, enabling users to explore cities worldwide.

Users will have the capability to multitask across multiple applications simultaneously, and an xrOS App Store will host apps optimized for the headset, alongside existing App Store content. Furthermore, Apple intends to adapt iPad applications to leverage the headset's immersive 3D interface.

Furthermore, Apple aims to transform various existing services and apps into captivating immersive experiences. For instance, users will have the ability to watch videos within virtual reality environments, simulating a large-scale screen, or engage in guided meditations accompanied by immersive visuals, audio, and voiceovers.

Several applications and services are expected to offer substantially different encounters within xrOS. Apple Fitness+ will provide immersive sports content viewing experiences, highlighting events like MLB and MLS. Additionally, Apple's collaborative Freeform tool will be available in a 3D format. With regards to FaceTime, the headset's numerous cameras will facilitate one-on-one conversations featuring realistic avatars that mirror the user's facial expressions and body movements.

Furthermore, Apple has developed a Books application for virtual reality reading, a Health application that focuses on psychological well-being, and a Camera application capable of capturing images using the headset's cameras.

Gaming and App Development

In order to encourage users to purchase Apple's mixed-reality headset, they will need to demonstrate that the software experiences are truly worthwhile. This entails not only offering captivating first-party experiences but also fostering innovation among third-party developers to create compelling apps.

Apple has reportedly focused on gaming and collaborated with select game developers to assist them in adapting their existing content for mixed reality. Additionally, Apple is said to possess a robust set of tools that empower non-developers to craft their own AR/VR experiences. According to a report, users will have the ability to utilize Siri as an assistant to create and launch AR apps for the headset, even without coding expertise.

The described tool from Apple is likened to the user-friendly environments of Minecraft and Roblox, enabling anyone to easily generate 3D tools and worlds. Apple is leveraging technology acquired from a Montreal-based startup called Fabric Software in 2017. Customers would be able to distribute the AR apps they create on the App Store, alongside professional developers.

It's important to note that the report's information is based on demonstrations of the tool conducted in 2021, so it may not reflect the most current state of Apple's plans. We should expect to receive updated information soon to verify the accuracy of this report.

When can we expect the arrival of xrOS?

Apple is anticipated to unveil its software tools for the headset during WWDC 2023, allowing developers ample time to craft augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) applications and experiences for the device before its official launch. Consequently, we can anticipate the complete version of xrOS to be introduced only when the headset is officially made available to the general public, which is projected to occur later in the year.

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