Apple preparing to release AR headset in 2020

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Apple's ARKit marks the start of a long journey for the company's work with augmented reality technology, but the long-rumored AR headset the company may be working on may still be years away from release. This is part of a larger AR initiative which was kicked off by the development and the release of Apple's ARKit.

But while we may have known of Apple's AR ambitions for quite a while, today's Bloomberg report unearths an interesting piece of information: a new operating system.

Bloomberg reports it's the same team that was first responsible for ARKit, Apple's set of tools that allows developers to create augmented reality applications for the iPhone and iPad, and new version of ARKit could debut in 2018.

As Apple's team has no prototype on which to experiment, the engineers are apparently using HTC Vive headsets for testing purposes.

Apple sees the AR headset as a successor to the iPhone, the report said. With companies like Magic Leap waiting in the wings it makes sense for Apple to indicate its intentions in the space. "There's virtual reality and there's augmented reality-both of these are incredibly interesting".

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Apple plans to build a standalone AR headset that will be powered by what the company internally calls rOS, or reality OS, according to Bloomberg.

Apple's also reportedly working on a special operating system called "rOS", short for "reality operating system". Microsoft has been squarely focused on business applications for its $3000 HoloLens headset, while at the same time using some of its technology to develop cheaper virtual reality devices.

Apple's product would have its own display, processor and operating system via a "system-on-a-package" component similar to the one in the Apple Watch.

According to Bloomberg, the iPhone maker is now experimenting with ways in which the headset can be operated, like using Siri, head gestures or a touch panel. As we've seen from other AR developers, minimizing technology to work in an AR headset is still a hard proposition. This is in line with what CEO Tim Cook said last month while addressing rumors of the AR glasses.

If everything goes according to plan, Apple's first independent AR headset could produce "virtual meeting rooms and 360-degree video playback" in 2020, as well as support a range of mapping and texting apps accumulated in a dedicated version of the App Store.