Meta halts development of AR/VR OS? For quite a while now the rumour mill has been churning up reports of an Apple mixed reality headset. It’s no secret that Apple has intense interest in the platform. Countless patents have been filed in recent years and the company has heavily invested in AR experiences on iOS and iPadOS. Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, is very bullish on the future of AR in particular.

“There’s virtual reality and there’s augmented reality — both of these are incredibly interesting. But my own view is that augmented reality is the larger of the two, probably by far.”

Tim Cook, via ABC News

More recenly, rumours have suggested that Apple’s entry into the AR/VR space could come as soon as this year. Intriguingly a report today from The Information claims that Meta (facebook and co) has ceased its development efforts for an AR/VR operating system. Currently Meta uses a heavily customised version of Android for its Oculus Quest devices. But Meta had hoped to own and develop the underlying software rather than relying on Google.

In a statement to the Verge, Meta contradicted this claim stating “We are not halting or scaling back our operations in building a reality operating system”.

“The team continues to make progress and we continue to invest in building for future computing platforms like AR glasses and wearable devices to help realize our metaverse vision.”

Sheeva Slovan, Meta via the Verge

What I found interesting is the choice of words. Meta may well be continuing to build a reality operating system but this might still be underpinned by Android. By creating a much more customised variant of Android, the firm could still achieve its ambitions to a large extent but without having to develop the underlying kernel and core foundations. This would certaintly save time and costs while ensuring developers have an easier time adapting content for the platform.

Apple by contract will almost certainly run a custom designed operating system to power any future mixed reality device. Apple absolutely does not like to rely on third party software for just about anything. The company has a firm stance of trying to own the entire stack, proven by its moves to produce its own silicon across the entire Apple ecosystem. Meta hasn’t historically been too concerned about that so it would seem unusual for them to start now. But time will tell.


Featured image: James Yarema via Unsplash

Leave a Reply