According to the very well connected Bloomberg reporter, Mark Gurman, Apple is ramping up the production of augmented reality glasses that will run on a custom ‘rOS’ operating system.
It is believed that the company will have the technology in place for this by 2019, meaning that they could begin shipping the product as early as 2020 but the development timeline has been described as “very aggressive” meaning that it could change suddenly.
The custom operating system will run on iOS and is reportedly rubbed ‘rOS’ for “reality operating system”.
Just as tvOS powers the Apple TV, macOS runs on Macs and watchOS runs on Apple Watches, “rOS” will power Apple’s AR headset. Geoff Stahl, formerly a software manager for games and graphics at Apple, is one of the directors of the “rOS” software group.
As of yet, Apple hasn’t explained how users will control the headset and launch apps but it is in the process of investigating touchscreens, Siri voice activation and head gestures as prototypes are being created. The report states:
Engineers are prototyping a range of applications, from mapping and texting to more advanced features including virtual meeting rooms and 360-degree video playback. The company has discussed pairing the headset with its own version of the App Store, where users would be able to download content, just as they do with the iPhone, Watch, Apple TV and Mac.
For internal testing purposes, Apple is said to be using HTC Vive headsets and Google Gear VR headsets that use an iPhone display and other hardware. This is only one of the products under the umbrella code “T288” that the team of software engineers is working on at both Cupertino and Sunnyvale.
During a recent interview about augmented reality, CEO Tim Cook said that the headset is still at least a few years away:
“Today I can tell you that the technology itself doesn’t exist to do that in a quality way,” Cook said. “We don’t give a rats about being first, we want to be best in creating people’s experiences. Something that you would see out in the market any time soon would not be something that any of us would be satisfied with.”
Here’s a mockup of the digital glasses via TechAcute