Apple finalizing mixed reality headset software ahead of launch

Appel’s mixed-reality headset has been rumored for years, and it could finally see the light of day sometime in 2023. A new report from Bloomberg today points out that Apple is continuing to ramp up hiring for teams working on AR and VR technology, including new hires and recruiting a former Apple engineer who had departed the company last year…

The latest on Apple’s AR/VR headset

In the latest edition of his power on Newsletter, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman runs through some of the areas Apple is focusing on as the potential 2023 release approaches.

First off, Gurman says that the development of the first version of the operating system that will run on the mixed-reality headset, codenamed Oak, “is wrapping up internally.” As such, it “should be ready for the new hardware next year,” Gurman says.

While Apple has drastically cut down on hiring amid broader economic uncertainty, the company is still on the lookout for people to join the teams working on the mixed-reality headset and other AR/VR technologies. Apple continues to make changes to the team working on the headset, which is Apple’s “Technology Development Group,” commonly referred to as TDG.

A few job listings indicate that Apple is ramping up its work to bolster the device with content. The company is searching for a software producer with experience in visual effects and game asset pipelines who can create digital content for augmented and virtual reality environments.

The listings also imply that Apple is looking to build a video service for the headset featuring 3D content that can be played in virtual reality.

Apple’s job listings also emphasize that the company wants to bring third-party apps to its mixed-reality headset. The company is looking for engineers to “work on the App Intents framework to help design and implement solutions” for things like Shortcuts, Search, Siri, and more.

Perhaps most notably, one job listing for the Technology Development Group targets engineers to work on building “tools and frameworks to enable connected experiences in a 3D mixed-reality world.” As Gurman points out, this sounds like “a virtual environment that is similar to the metaverse.”

You will work closely with Apple’s UI framework, human interface designers and system capabilities teams—pushing you to think outside-the-box, and solve incredibly challenging and interesting problems in the 3D application space.

Apple has also recruited Dave Scott, a former Apple senior manager who worked on the company’s Project Titan self-driving car team until 2021. On the Project Titan team, Scott was responsible for leading teams “working on robotics related to the car,” but he departed to briefly serve as the CEO of a healthcare startup.

Given Scott’s work in medical and robotics technology, Bloomberg says that his “involvement could suggest some health applications for the headset.”

Apple has also shifted engineers working on other projects to the headset team. One such example is 20-year Apple veteran Yaniv Gur, a senior director of engineering.

Before joining the headset group, Gur oversaw engineering for the iWork apps (Pages, Keynote and Numbers), in addition to the Books, Notes and News apps across the company’s platforms. The headset team already has an operating system chief, Geoff Stahl, so Gur’s appointment suggests to me that the company is developing a suite of productivity apps for the headset.

The current expectation is that Apple will announce some form of its mixed-reality headset in 2023, but it’s expected to be very expensive. The first version likely won’t target mass consumers, instead focused on “pro” users and developers.

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