Apple’s new mixed-reality headset, called “Reality Pro,” is likely to be shown off at the WWDC keynote on June 5. That will be in less than two months.
Even though the headset isn’t expected to ship until later this year and will be expensive and limited at first, Apple needs to offer interesting experiences to get people and developers interested.
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman says in his most recent report that all hands are on deck to make AR/VR versions of Apple’s core apps. Most of the apps mentioned in the study have only been guessed at, not proven. Gurman says that some workers at the company have been putting in 80-hour weeks to get the software ready for the June 5 launch.
It looks like the Reality Pro will have a version of every app that comes pre-installed on an iPhone. In Gurman’s account, the following apps are mentioned:
People say that many of the apps look a lot like how they do on the iPad. It makes sense, since most of these things are based on text or pictures, so things like “floating iPad app windows with custom controls” seem like the right way to start.
The story also talks about how some of these apps will be changed to take advantage of the headset’s mixed reality features. For example, it’s been said that you’ll be able to watch videos in a “virtual theater” or other virtual places like the desert or the moon. This feature is likely to be part of the TV app.
The goal of the FaceTime app is to make a digital version of each user in a virtual meeting room. With the Exercise+ app, you can watch a virtual reality (VR) exercise instructor while you work out.
A meditation app will give you “a series of calming graphics, sounds, and voice-overs.” With the Camera app, you can use the device’s cameras to take photos and movies. With the Freeform app, users can use a virtual whiteboard to work together on projects.
The latter is said to be a big selling point, but other companies have tried to push virtual work teamwork with little success. So far, people have been reluctant to work in VR, and working together in VR or AR doesn’t seem any more appealing.
It’s also said that Apple will make watching sports in a more engaging way a big selling point. Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer are likely to be two of the sports that will be featured. In the tvOS 16.5 beta, a new Multi-View feature for sports was added, but it’s not clear if it’s also part of the augmented reality features.
Gaming is going to be a big part of the Reality Pro, which Gurman says is the opposite of how the company used to do things.
It’s easy to see why, since it’s one of the best ways to show off VR and AR technology and the most popular type of program for Meta’s Oculus headsets and most of its competitors.
Gurman says that Apple has been working with “a small number of developers for months to help them upgrade their existing software for mixed reality.” Between the statement and the release, there will be a few more months, which should give other developers time to get on board.
Floating screens will let the headset run multiple apps at once. It will know where you are when you use them. For example, if you open Safari in the kitchen, leave, and come back, Safari will still be there.
Apple wants as many AR or VR-optimized apps as possible, but the xrOS operating system, which is said to be built on iOS, will be able to run iPad apps either as-is or with only minor changes.
In the end, it sounds like every Apple app will get a version that works better with the headset. Some of these versions will be little more than moving windows with an iPad-like interface, while others will make full use of the AR and VR features of the device.
But Apple seems to know that if it wants this type of device to be successful, it needs makers to go all in instead of waiting and seeing.