Apple realityOS Spotted In Code: Is It AR/VR/MR Time At Last?

Apple's planned AR/VR devices have been the subject of rumors for years at this point, but now we're seeing some indications that we could finally be nearing release. References to a so-called realityOS, rumored to be the operating system at the core of the AR and VR devices, have been found in App Store upload logs and Apple's open source uploads to GitHub. The big question now is whether these references are legit and, if they are, what that means about Apple's rumored VR/AR devices.

MacRumors cites various developers who spotted the references, with iOS developer Matthew Davis calling out a GitHub reference in a Twitter post. In a similar post, developer Steve Troughton-Smith calls out the same references, though he notes that "this could be a remnant of somebody's pull request from a fake account," suggesting that even though this looks like straight confirmation, we should still take it with a "Grain of salt, etc."

Developer Rens Verhoeven shared the references he discovered in App Store upload logs, asking, "Uh what is Apple's RealityOS doing in the App Store upload logs? AR/VR confirmed?" That seems to be the question that's on everyone's minds at the moment, Rens.

Assuming these references are legitimate and not just the work of fake accounts as Troughton-Smith points out, they could mean that Apple's long-rumored AR/VR devices are nearing release. Apple is rumored to have multiple devices in development, and earlier this year, notable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted that Apple could have its first one – an AR/MR headset – out of the gate by the end of 2022, albeit in limited supply. NOTE: AR is augmented reality, VR is virtual reality, and MR is mixed reality.

Just days after Ming-Chi Kuo suggested Apple was working on a headset, a Bloomberg report claimed that Apple may not be able to stick to that timeline. Apple is said to be using its M1 chip in this AR/MR headset, but keeping those chips cool enough in a wearable has reportedly proven difficult. Because of that, Bloomberg suggests that Apple may not launch the product until 2023, even though the company still may push for a late 2022 debut.

Rumors of an expected VR headset have become more nebulous in recent months, but we've also heard that Apple could have a transparent-display wearable AR headset that resembles a pair of regular eyeglasses by 2025. In short, the rumor mill has been churning out some wild, often confusing, reports about Apple's AR/VR/MR plans, but with these references to realityOS out in the wild, we may finally be closing in on some kind of announcement.

As for when Apple might actually announce these products is anyone's guess. Apple is rumored to be hosting a reveal event next month, but that seems likely to focus on iPad and iPhone SE. Apple could always opt to reveal the operating system first and the devices that will run it second, and if that's the case, then WWDC 2022 could be a good time to reveal realityOS. We'll keep our eyes peeled for additional details and update you when we learn more, but 2022 could be a big year for Apple's AR/VR ambitions even if it doesn't launch any devices.