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Apple’s VR headset will feature a 3D operating system that will resemble iOS with hand and finger gesture recognition — and can be used as a macOS display.
The long-rumored Apple AR headset could finally become a real product in 2023, but there are still many questions about how it will actually function. In a new breakdown of how the headset will work, Apple’s attempt to take on Meta and others will rely on producing a great operating system experience, as well as high-specification hardware.
Driving the entire device will be an operating system that will have an iOS-like interface, according to Bloomberg. The operating system, xrOS, will be completely in 3D, and offer many of the same features as iOS and iPadOS, including a version of Safari, Photos, Mail, Messages, and Calendar.
The aim is to apparently offer an experience familiar to iPhone and iPad users.
To navigate the environment, hand, finger, and eye tracking will be used via several cameras and sensors, with gestures such as pinching their thumb and index finger used to trigger items. Eye tracking will allow users to select elements from a menu, without clumsily doing so with their hands.
Despite being a headset that covers the head, FaceTime will still be usable, with the headset realistically rendering a user’s face and body in VR as an avatar. This would be wildly different from Meta’s approach, which relies on cartoon-like avatars instead.
The realistic avatars will only be supported in one-on-one video chats due to the high amount of processing power required for it to work. For multiple people, additional users could be displayed as an icon or as Memoji.
A Digital Crown, like the Apple Watch version, will be used to switch users between AR and VR modes, so that they can gradually move between the two depending on how much of the real-world environment they need to see.
To further productivity, the headset will also be able to work as an external monitor for a Mac. The user’s Mac display will be visible in VR, but control of the computer is still performed using a trackpad, mouse, or physical keyboard.
To enter text into the system, users will still have an option to do it entirely in-headset. Technology is being made to allow users to type in midair with their hands on a virtual keyboard, however it apparently won’t be ready for the initial launch of the device.