After the surprise announcement of the M2 Pro, the M2 Max, and the Mac Mini, one thing about Apple is absolutely certain. No matter what educated guesses made by insiders and industry experts might suggest, we truly never know what might be announced next by this iconic tech giant. January 17th, 2023 saw Apple releasing products many didn’t expect until the spring of 2023 or later. With this move, all eyes are now on Apple’s long-anticipated xrOS: the brand new, state-of-the-art operating system expected to power their upcoming mixed-reality headset. Here’s what we know.
At a Glance: Apple’s Reality Pro and xrOS Operating System
|Product||Apple-branded AR/VR headset|
|Rumored Name(s)||Apple Reality Pro or Apple Reality One|
|Operating System||xrOS or realityOS|
|Possible Release Date||Spring or summer 2023|
|Rumored Features||Battery pack at waist; exclusive content from filmmakers such as Jon Favreau|
|Estimated Size||Similar to the Oculus|
|Estimated Weight||300-400 grams|
What We Know About Apple’s Reality Pro
To be clear, Apple’s Reality Pro isn’t technically an official product just yet. There have been plenty of rumors and just as many legitimate reports surrounding the development and future release of the Apple-branded mixed-reality headset. However, Apple has never officially confirmed its existence. They’ve never said “Here’s our new headset technology, here’s what it will be called, and here’s what it will entail.” As such, it should be said that everything we know about Apple’s Reality Pro comes entirely from insider reports.
With that being said, we actually happen to know quite a bit about Apple’s upcoming AR/VR headset. For starters, we are quite confident the headset will go by the name “Reality Pro.” This comes straight from a series of trademark filings from the summer of 2022. Names such as “Reality One,” “Reality Pro,” and other variations on this same basic theme are listed in the trademark filing. (Companies tend to cover all the bases in the development stages, listing any and all possible names so that they can have the rights to all the possibilities before making a decision.)
We also know that the Reality Pro is expected to combine both augmented and virtual reality technologies. This effectively allows Apple’s Reality Pro to dominate both the AR and VR crazes with one single product. Developed under the codename N301, the Reality Pro joins a couple of other potential AR/VR products from Apple. There’s also the more advanced N602 and the AR glasses codenamed N421. While these two rumored projects are far from ready for the public eye, all signs point toward the Reality Pro releasing (or at least being announced) in the spring of 2023.
More Rumors Surrounding Apple’s Reality Pro
Beyond reports about the Reality Pro’s name and follow-ups, we also have a good idea what the Reality Pro might look like. Thanks to a leaked image from an upcoming Microsoft Windows app, it appears the Reality Pro will be around the same size and shape as an Oculus headset. It also has a familiar knit mesh wrapped around the product’s body. (Kind of like the knit mesh on AirPods Max.) The Reality Pro also appears to feature a band of similar look and feel to an Apple Watch band, but we can’t imagine it would be the same rubbery texture.
Other, less definitive rumors suggest Apple’s Reality Pro will be made of glass, carbon fiber, and aluminum components to keep the device lightweight. After all, no one wants a big, heavy headset hanging on their face. This focus on weight might also explain the rumor behind the battery pack. Some have suggested that, based on patents and licenses, the Reality Pro will feature an external wired battery pack. (If Apple can’t find a big enough battery that’s also lightweight, it makes sense why they’d do something like this to lighten the device.)
As far as finer details are concerned, things start to get hazy. We don’t know anything definitive about the Reality Pro yet, so particulars can be especially shaky. That being said, some have noted the Reality Pro will feature a digital crown on the side to switch between AR and VR mode. Others have claimed the battery will last a couple of hours with multiple battery packs to switch out so you can continue using the device without charging. Only time will tell how much is true.
Why Apple’s Reality Pro Matters
You might be thinking: “So what? Apple is making its own headset. Big deal. Everyone has one of those these days.” That’s not entirely accurate, though. The Reality Pro — as well as its xrOS operating system — have a great deal of significance. Here are just a handful of (rumored) reasons why.
- Combines both AR and VR experiences into one sleek, Apple-branded headset
- Offers exclusive AR/VR versions of classic Apple apps
- Supports pairing with other Apple devices
- Equipped with unique experiences for multiple people wearing Reality Pros in the same vicinity
- Boasts Apple-exclusive AR/VR experiences from top creatives such as Jon Favreau
- Potential to do everything Meta and Oculus can do, only better
- Use of gesture recognition technology to put the Reality Pro at the cutting edge of AR/VR
Apple’s Reality Pro xrOS Operating System
Let’s look beyond the actual device itself. What is there to be said about the actual operating system that will be powering the Reality Pro? The answer, as usual, can possibly be found in the patents. It’s been said that the Reality Pro will rely on Apple’s M2 chip coupled with 16GB of memory. Beyond this, the company, or rather a shell company that Apple has used to patent in the past, holds the rights to something dubbed “Reality Processor.” Alas, it remains to be seen whether or not this actually ends up in the first generation Reality Pro.
However, something called a “Reality Processor” seems pretty likely to be included in every AR or VR product from the tech giant. Think about it: The M2 chip is plenty powerful, especially paired with 16GB of memory. However, augmented and virtual reality graphics are a lot to ask of a product — even with something as cutting-edge as the M2 system-on-a-chip. For this reason, a so-called Reality Processor is surely going to be necessary to handle the increased demand for top-notch graphics.
This processor will pair nicely with the Reality Pro’s operating system. Floating around the rumor mill since 2017 at the earliest, this new operating system is sure to be one of the most impressive from Apple to date. Patents and licenses suggest it’ll be called either xrOS, realityOS, or simply rOS. No matter what the name ultimately ends up being, we can be confident in the fact that it will have plenty to offer. Another absolute certainty? That the so-called xrOS will have AR/VR versions of classic Apple staples such as FaceTime and Apple Maps.
The Finer Details of Apple’s xrOS Operating System
The development of a designated operating system for Apple’s upcoming AR/VR headset shouldn’t come as a surprise. It’s not as if augmented reality has never been a part of Apple’s business model. Look at the success of Pokémon Go back in 2016. The epitome of a successful augmented reality gaming experience, Apple played a key role in the success of the now-iconic game. All it took was offering developers tools and resources to bring AR experiences to the iPhone and other Apple devices. The Reality Pro’s xrOS will no doubt continue this trend.
When it comes down to it, framing the Reality Pro and its corresponding OS as nothing more than an Apple device and its operating system would drastically undersell this fascinating and innovative new product. Based on everything we know about the Reality Pro and the finer details of the xrOS operating system, it can be said with confidence that this product and operating system will redefine Apple as a whole. It’s not just the latest Apple OS optimized for AR/VR. This is poised to be an entirely new creation, built from the ground up.
For more details surrounding Apple’s upcoming xrOS operating system, it helps to look to what other apps are doing. For instance, several apps such as Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro have recently added support for virtual reality video and Spatial Audio. This definitely clues us in on what the xrOS operating system will offer. The same goes for recently added third-party software that supports body and hand tracking and gestures, AR/VR Siri technology, hand-based typing, and more. We might also see support for 3D versions of popular films and television shows with xrOS.
When Will We See the Apple Reality Pro and xrOS Operating System?
As of now, Apple remains tight-lipped on when we could possibly see the Reality Pro or its xrOS operating system. Remember: Apple is still yet to even confirm the existence of such things, let alone give a definitive release date for them. However, if rumors and murmurings from insiders and industry experts are to be believed, we will surely have our hands on the Reality Pro by the end of the year at the latest. The device and its operating system have been discussed since 2017. This thing is six years in the making (at least). Here’s hoping that spring release date holds true.