Apple has yet to officially acknowledge its work on an augmented reality (AR) headset, but code snippets discovered in the latest version of its mobile operating system suggest that employees may already be testing the device.
Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Tuesday afternoon, indie game developer Steve Troughton-Smith tweeted that he had discovered some curious mentions of the device in iOS 13: The latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system apparently already includes StarBoard, which is thought to be a developer framework for AR apps that are designed to run on a headset.
What’s more, Troughton-Smith also discovered a mention of a new gamepad meant to work with AR apps for headsets. “The controller profile has a clicky trackpad, a trigger button, and a system (home?) button,” he tweeted.
And if that wasn’t enough, Troughton-Smith also stumbled across a text file that tells Apple employees how to test AR apps if they don’t have access to the headset.
The iOS 13 GM also comes with a readme file (!) for how employees can run Stereo AR apps on an iPhone when you don't have access to Apple's headset 😳 pic.twitter.com/SeZEHW8p0S
— Steve Troughton-Smith (@stroughtonsmith) September 10, 2019
These findings suggest that Apple’s upcoming AR headset will work similar to its Carplay technology, and effectively “beam” apps from a mobile phone to the device. Developers will be able to optimize their iOS apps for the device, and switch back and forth between a head-mounted and a handheld mode to run both on the headset and a mobile phone.
Apple has reportedly been working on a headset that offers access to both virtual and augmented reality. In March, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo estimated that the company may start to produce its headset by Q4 of this year, and then publicly introduce it in 2020.
Some observers had predicted that the company may give us a first peek at the device during this week’s iPhone. In the end, the AR headset joined a number of other rumored products that didn’t make the cut.