But while viewing AR objects through a phone screen now works, what everyone really wants is a headset that puts digital information right in front of your eyes. That name could change by the time this new AR ecosystem is ready for a reveal, but considering the names of Apple's other operating systems (macOS, tvOS), it could very well stick. Apple kicked off its support for it with the iPhone 8 and iPhone X earlier this year, bringing AR apps to iOS and experimenting with new camera features.
We have ARKit on our iPhones and iPads now, and Apple may extend to an augmented reality headset within a couple years. READ NEXT:Google launches new spatial audio toolkit to help VR sound design Cook recently acknowledged the calls for Apple to build an AR headset or smart glasses, saying he "doesn't give a rats" about being the first to the idea. With augmented reality, you aren't shut off from the world around you, but virtual elements can be overlaid on the real world. "We're already seeing things that will transform the way you work, play, connect and learn", Cook said in the most recent Apple earnings call, according to Bloomberg. For once, Microsoft seems to have the lead in the race to market for AR/VR, and should have second versions of both HoloLens and Mixed Reality devices in the marketplace before Apple makes an appearance.
The device may have a gaming focus, with Geoff Stahl, software manager for games and graphics at Apple, being a key part of the development team. The chip will be similar in concept to the "system-on-a-package" component that's found inside the Apple Watch. Simply put, he said, Apple believes AR is forever going to change the way we use technology. The OS that the Apple AR headset would use will be specially designed, and is being referred to as the "rOS" or "reality operating system".
While the company has not yet finalized how users will control the headset and start apps, it is researching options such as touch panels, Siri voice activation, and head gestures, according to Bloomberg. Aetna workers are co-located at Apple's offices in Cupertino, he said, as the company looks to have a variety of apps ready in time for the January 1 start of the Apple Watch pilot program.