Although Apple CEO Tim Cook alluded to any headset being at least a few years away during a recent interview about augmented reality, the reports convey a completely different story. Apple's release of AR glasses would drive this home, but the company needs its own custom chip that can handle the graphics and computational tasks required, which will be in real-time, and something that you wear.
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The new AR operating system is also dubbed "rOS", much like tvOS is for Apple TV and macOS is for Macs, Bloomberg reported. Apple engineers are also said to be now prototyping a range of applications for use in AR, reportedly using HTC Vive headsets for testing them. Scattered across office parks in both Cupertino and Sunnyvale, California, the team is working on several hardware and software projects under the umbrella code name of "T288".
"Today I can tell you that the technology itself doesn't exist to do that in a quality way", Cook said. It's designing one in-house that's similar in concept to the "system-on-a-package" component in the Apple Watch. The company has discussed pairing the headset with its version of the App Store, where users would be able to download content, just as they do with the iPhone, Watch, Apple TV and Mac. Instead, it would utilize its own display and a new chip and operating system. It is looking for options such as touch panels, voice-activation, Siri and maybe head gestures. One working prototype to internally test AR apps looks like an Oculus Gear headset with iPhone's screen, cameras and chipsets, according to Bloomberg. The two companies said at the time that the investment was meant to support Corning's research and development as well as capital equipment needs and glass processing capabilities.