The Apple AR/VR headset isn’t official yet, but leaks surrounding it just keep on coming – and the latest to arrive outlines how the device might work with other Apple products, such as iPhones and HomePods.
A patent (opens in new tab) filed in Europe (via MacRumors (opens in new tab)) describes “Multi-Device Continuity for use with Extended Reality (XR) Systems”, and expands on the Continuity features (such as Handoff and Universal Control) already available on existing Apple gadgets.
We’re assuming that the same Continuity rules will apply to the upcoming AR/VR (or XR) headset: as long as you’re signed into the same Apple ID on all your devices, they’ll work seamlessly together using technologies such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Ease of use
The patent gives a few examples of how this might work. In one, someone wearing the headset would look at an email on an iPhone, and could then throw it over to a larger virtual display using a hand gesture or a look.
In the same way, it would be possible to transfer music playback from an iPhone to a HomePod – all you would need to do while wearing the headset is to make a gesture or just switch your gaze to change devices. You would also be able to get extra screens and widgets showing up in augmented reality while looking at a Mac screen, for instance.
You get the general idea. Of course the usual patent disclaimer applies: these patents don’t always necessarily end up as shipped products or features, though they do give us an idea of what companies are currently exploring.
Analysis: continuity is key
Most of the time, the Continuity features that Apple has baked into its products make life much easier and more convenient. Recently, macOS got the ability to use a nearby iPhone as a webcam for example – a smart idea and well implemented.
It’s really no surprise that Apple would want to extend this to its upcoming AR/VR headset. The device isn’t being launched into a vacuum: Apple has a strong ecosystem of products that can help add to the appeal of the headset.
In the same way that the Apple Watch has become a desirable accessory for the iPhone, the AR/VR headset could be positioned as something that’s not just great on its own, but also when it’s working in tandem with iPhones, iPads, Macs and more.
As with all of these leaks and rumors, we’ll have to wait and see. Most of the chatter we’ve heard so far points towards a 2023 launch for the new device, though the first edition is likely to be priced above the budget of most average consumers.