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Apple's AR Headset Coming with Whole New OS

Apple is focusing on the development of a new augmented reality headset with its own chip and a brand new operating system, according to a report from Bloomberg.

Image Credit:

(Image credit: Image Credit:

The company is reportedly looking to have the technology down pat in 2019 so it can ship an ambitious product in 2020.

The company has a team of several hundred engineers operating on a project code named "T288." This is the same team that built Apple's ARKit for for iOS 11, which Bloomberg describes as an "interim step" to the actual goal of a self-contained headset.

Apple's ARKit in action. Credit: Apple

(Image credit: Apple's ARKit in action. Credit: Apple)

That headset will run a new operating system called "rOS," though Apple is still figuring out how it will work. The company is looking into voice control via Siri, head gestures and touch panels, and are building a series of apps for testing (texting, 360-degree video playback, virtual meetings) and possibly its own App Store.

Apple is investigating several challenges, including battery life long enough to keep the headset going, even during long, immersive, 3D experiences, as well as solid screen technology.

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“The field of view, the quality of the display itself, it’s not there yet...” Apple CEO Tim Cook told The Independent in an interview last month. "But now anything you would see on the market any time soon would not be something any of us would be satisfied with. Nor do I think the vast majority of people would be satisfied.”

According to the report, Apple's engineers are using HTC Vive headsets for testing, and are building out a device similar to Samsung's Gear VR with an iPhone's display, camera and CPU, which it will use to test more AR apps in the near future.

Cook hasn't been secretive about his vision for AR has the technology as the future, and ARKit should make it easier for software developers to create applications that work with an Apple AR headset, though we're still waiting on killer AR apps for iPhones running on iOS 11.

Andrew E. Freedman is an editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming as well as keeping up with the latest news. He holds a M.S. in Journalism (Digital Media) from Columbia University. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Kotaku, PCMag, Complex, Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag among others.