Meta might be rethinking plans to build a new operating system for its AR and VR devices. The Information understands Meta recently disbanded a team of 300-plus people working on its long-in-the-making XROS. The team will reportedly share its experience with other parts of Meta. Some will move to the AR glasses unit, while others will work on future Quest headsets and the "XR Tech" team responsible for eye tracking, hand tracking and other machine perception features.
Rumors surfaced in January that Meta had halted most or all work on XROS in favor of refining the Android-based VROS platform used in the Quest 2 headset. Meta appeared to deny the move in a statement to Engadget at the time, claiming that it was "not halting or scaling back" its reality OS development.
We've asked Meta for comment on this latest report. In a statement to The Information, spokesperson Sheeva Slovan didn't confirm or deny the state of XROS but did reference the disbanding. Meta could "speed up" work on technology for each product line by placing OS engineers "directly" into its AR and VR teams, she said, adding that the company was still devoted to making "highly specialized systems."
A decision like this might produce mixed results. While it could help Meta launch new AR and VR products that much faster, it would also keep the company tied to Android despite attempts to drop Google's software. If those are true, you might see more frequent but iterative headset releases than if Meta continued work on XROS.
Update 2/26 11:55AM ET: Meta has provided its full statement, available below.
"We are always evolving our team structures to help us bring great products to market quickly. By embedding more OS engineers directly into our AR and VR teams, we can speed up the development of solutions that are hyper-tuned for each product line. As we’ve said before, there are several technical directions we’re pursuing to build these and we remain committed to building highly specialized systems. We continue to invest and optimize to move fast so we can deliver against the aggressive goals we’ve set."