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From iOS to RealityOS: Apple’s Next Move is the Metaverse

Typically, I’m not one to pay attention to tech leaks, particularly about Apple, because they have so many patents and projects with no true timeline – like the fully autonomous Apple Car we’ve heard about since 2014. But I’m making an exception today because it’s a significant leak about Apple’s metaverse plans.

Apple has been working on the software that will run on the AR/VR headset since 2017, and according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, Apple will refer to it as realityOS, or rOS. The name will go along with the headset's name, which is expected to be either Reality One or Reality Pro.

Gurman has described the headset as an "all-encompassing 3D environment" designed for gaming, media consumption, and communication.

With the AR/VR headset on track to debut at some point in 2023, likely in the first half of the year, that's also when we expect to see the first version of realityOS. Apple could perhaps introduce realityOS and the headset at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June, but there's also a chance that it could come out before then. – MacRumors

RealityOS will redesign how iMessage, FaceTime, and Maps all function via a heads-up display. One of the main drawbacks of the Oculus is that when you’re in the headset, you’re shut off from the rest of the world. And also shut off from your other technology. Adding the iMessage functionality to the metaverse experience instantly adds value and a distinct leg-up on the Oculus.

Also, I imagine that realityOS will significantly lean on Siri to help navigate and use apps.

As always, with a new Apple OS we’ll also get a new App Store dedicated to AR/VR content and apps. Given that the App Store developer ecosystem is so strong, Apple shouldn’t have any problem adding productivity and entertainment apps to their headset.

Furthermore, because they have the Apple Arcade and Apple TV, introducing immersive experiences in gaming and film will be natural and make discovery quite simple.

We have some time before we’ll see realityOS in action. But it’s encouraging to hear Apple has been working on its metaverse software for half a decade.

On a related note, this leak shows what the Reality One headset might look like:

Credit: Ian Zelbo