Apple VR/AR headset launch may be close — according to this source code clue

apple vr and mixed reality headset fan render front view on blue background
(Image credit: Ian Zelbo)

Word is the Apple VR/AR headset, rumored to be called the Apple Reality Pro, will be making its first public appearance at WWDC 2023. While Apple still hasn’t said anything to confirm or deny these rumors, internet sleuths have uncovered another clue suggesting the headset’s launch is imminent.

As spotted by Aaron on Twitter and verified by 9to5Mac, the latest Apple source code release includes references to something called “realityOS” alongside established Apple systems like macOS and iOS. 

If that name sounds familiar it’s because realityOS is one of the rumored names for Apple’s bespoke mixed reality operating system.

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Other terms mentioned in the code include Reality Simulator and “Wolf”, the alleged codename for the new software.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen mentions of realityOS in official Apple documentation. The term appeared in App Store update logs, a 2021 USPTO trademark, and the new Apple Devices app. However we had heard rumors that Apple had scrapped the name in favor of “xrOS”, thanks to reports from Bloomberg.

XR is short for “extended reality”, a catch-all term that includes virtual, augmented and mixed reality experiences. A useful term to differentiate Apple’s operating system from the rest, even if it feels a little generic and uninspired. XR is also a term used by other companies, such as HTC with its Vive XR Elite headset.

At this point it's unclear whether realityOS is the name Apple has gone for. It may simply be a placeholder, to be swapped out for the official name once the headset (and its software) have been formally announced.

Apple VR/AR headset: What to expect 

realityOS for apple headset

(Image credit: Antonio DeRosa)

We’ve heard a lot about the Apple headset so far, though none of it has been confirmed or denied by Apple itself. The rumors point to this being a lightweight virtual reality headset with pass-through augmented reality capabilities — similar to those found on the Meta Quest Pro and HTC Vive XR Elite.

It’s also been reported that the headset is not tied into the Metaverse concept, and isn’t intended for extended periods of use. In fact the battery life may not last more than a couple of hours, if one report is to be believed. Instead Apple is positioning XR as an entertainment and communication device, designed for gaming, calls and watching video — all of which can be done in short bursts of time.

However the chances of doing that with the Reality Pro, as it's sometimes referred, are slim. Not unless you have $3,000 to spare. It’s long been suggested that the first generation headset is meant for developers, allowing them to get to grips with augmented reality ahead of the launch of Apple Glasses. 

While the AR specs have reportedly been delayed indefinitely, that plan still makes sense. A cheaper version of the headset is rumored to be coming at some point in the next few years, and its success will no doubt hinge on the software ecosystem. People won’t buy a headset they can’t do anything with, after all.

Rumors point to the Apple VR/AR headset launching at WWDC, which typically kicks off the first week of June.

At the moment rumors point to the Apple VR/AR headset launching at WWDC, which typically kicks off during the first week of June. While not typically a hardware event, it would be the perfect opportunity for Apple to reveal the headset and the associated software. 

A recent report also claims that Apple is pushing to release the headset soon, against the wishes of the design team. So if the headset doesn’t appear at WWDC we may still see it announced at some point in the very near future. So watch this space.

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Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.