Apple source code references 'realityOS' for potential VR/AR headsets

The headsets are reported to be arriving in 2022 or 2023.

Stephen Lam / Reuters

The operating system powering Apple's rumored virtual or augmented reality headset may be called realityOS, MacRumors has reported. The term was spotted by multiple sources in recent GitHub open source code and App Store upload logs. "What is Apple's realityOS doing in the App Store upload logs," tweeted iOS developer Rens Verhoeven. "This at least confirms [realityOS] 1) has its own OS & binaries and, 2) has a realityOS simulator," noted another well-known developer, Steve Troughton-Smith.

The existence of such an OS was first reported by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman as rOS in 2017, and is reportedly known internally as "Oak" at Apple. The "OS" nomenclature would be logical, given the names of Apple's iOS, macOS, iPadOS, tvOS and watchOS operating systems.

Apple's development of AR/VR headsets has been rumored for years. Apple purchased VR company VRvana in 2017, suggesting it was pursuing the technology. The Information reported in 2019 that a mixed AR/VR headset would come in 2022, with AR glasses arriving by 2023.

However, the most recent rumor from Bloomberg suggests that the headset will be delayed until 2023 due to development issues like overheating. They'll reportedly offer computing power on par with an M1 Mac and could be standalone without the need to tether, according to analyst Ming-chi Kuo.

If the references are real, they could suggest that developers are getting or will be getting access to the OS. As Troughton-Smith warned, however, they "could just be a remnant of somebody's pull request from a fake account," too — so take the leak with an appropriate dose of skepticism.