iOS 14 code suggests Apple testing its rumored AR headset with a bowling game

Apple’s oft-rumored augmented reality headset project seems to be chugging along with a new report Thursday suggesting that the iPhone maker might be testing the unreleased accessory with a ten pin bowling game and a controller that resembles HTC’s Vive Focus.

MacRumors has uncovered strings from early iOS 14 code along with a photo of what looks like a modified HTC controller for their Vive virtual reality headset, which released in 2016.

“Given the basic design of the controller, we suspect that it is for internal testing purposes only,” MacRumors noted, adding that a consumer version would likely be “much more polished.”

Here’s what it looks like.

9to5Mac recently uncovered traces of a new Apple app from internal iOS 14 builds. Code-named Gobi, it includes a spatial ten pin bowling game, according to MacRumors’ findings.

One particularly interesting augmented reality experience that Apple is testing is a ‘crosswalk bowling game,’ which we believe may allow Apple engineers to roll a virtual bowling ball across the crosswalk to knock down virtual bowling pins on the other side of the street while waiting for the pedestrian light to change from stop to go.

MacRumors has created an illustration depicting what this game looks like.

Curiously, that augmented reality experience is apparently only activated at a specific street within a 5-mile radius of the Apple Park headquarters.

This crosswalk boarding game can only be triggered at an intersection near an Apple office known as ‘Mathilda 3’ at 555 N Mathilda Ave in Sunnyvale, California, which may be one of the locations that Apple is developing its AR/VR headset. This office is located roughly five miles from the company’s Apple Park headquarters in nearby Cupertino.

Irish iOS developer Steve Troughton-Smith remarked last September that the GameController framework in iOS 13 supports a gamepad profile for an unreleased device most likely meant to be used while using stereo augmented reality apps. “The controller profile has a clicky trackpad, a trigger button and a system (Home?) button,” he added in another tweet.

We don’t know if Apple is working on a first-party handheld controller for AR/VR, let alone estimate if it would ever see the light of day, but it seems like its engineers are using something that resembles the HTC Vive Focus controller for internal testing purposes.

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported back in 2017 that Apple engineers were testing the rumored AR/VR headset internally using HTC’s Vive controller. Curiously, Apple has for years recommended the HTC Vive as the officially supported headset for AR/VR creation on the Mac using SteamVR, Unity and other development environments.

Image top of post: HTC Vive Focus controller, via Steve Troughton-Smith