Apple is expected to unveil its new mixed reality headset, dubbed the “Reality Pro,” at the WWDC keynote conference on June 5th. That’s less than two months from now. And while the headset isn’t expected to actually ship until later this year (and it’ll be a pricey item in limited quantities at first), Apple needs to entice potential buyers and developers with exciting experiences.
According to the latest report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, everything is in place to create custom AR/VR versions of core Apple apps. Most of the applications detailed in the report have been hypothesized, but not yet actually confirmed. Gurman claims that some of the company’s engineers worked 80-hour weeks to prepare the software for the launch on June 5.
It seems, in general, that every app that comes pre-installed on an iPhone will get a dedicated Reality Pro app. The applications mentioned in the Gurman report include:
- confrontation time
- free form
- the main idea
- the pictures
Many of the apps are said to be very similar to their iPad counterparts. It makes sense — most of these things are primarily designed around text or images, so things like “floating iPad app windows with custom controls” seem like the right approach at first.
The report also talks about some of the ways some of these apps will be updated to specifically take advantage of the headset’s mixed reality capabilities. For example, it has been previously reported that you will be able to watch video content in a “virtual theater” or other default settings such as desert or moon, which are likely to be part of the TV app. FaceTime aims to create a digital avatar for users in a virtual meeting room. The Fitness + app will let you watch a fitness instructor in virtual reality while you work out, while the Meditation app will provide you with “a series of soothing graphics, sounds, and voiceovers.” The camera will, of course, let you take photos and videos using the device’s cameras, while the Freeform app will let users collaborate on projects using a virtual whiteboard.
The latter is said to be a major selling point, though other companies have tried to push virtual work collaboration with little success — until now, people have been resisting working in VR, working together In virtual reality or augmented reality it does not look more attractive.
Apple is also said to be making watching sports in an immersive way a big selling point as well, with Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer likely highlighting the content. The tvOS 16.5 beta introduced the new Multi-View feature to sports, but it’s not clear if that’s part of the AR features as well.
In what Gurman says is a reversal from the company’s previous approach, gaming is meant to be a key category for Reality Pro. No wonder – it’s one of the best offerings for VR and AR technology, and the most popular software category for the Meta Oculus headset, as well as most other competitors.
Gurman says Apple has been working with “a small number of developers for months to help them upgrade their existing mixed reality software.” There will be a gap of several more months between the announcement and release, which should give time for other developers to catch on.
The headset will be able to run multiple applications simultaneously, in floating windows. It will remember where you are when you use it: the example given is if you open Safari in the kitchen, leave, and then come back, Safari will reappear. While Apple wants as many apps optimized for augmented or virtual reality as possible, xrOS, which is said to be based on iOS, will be able to run iPad apps either as is or with minimal modification.
In the end, it looks like every Apple app will get some kind of headset-optimized version, with some being little more than floating windows that display an iPad-like user interface, while others making integral use of the AR and VR capabilities of the device. But Apple seems to understand that if it’s going to succeed in this class of device, it needs developers to be all in on everything rather than taking a wait-and-see approach.
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