The upcoming iOS 16 beta should hint at how an Apple headset is supposed to work

A rumored mixed-reality Apple headset won’t be unveiled at WWDC, but the iOS 16 beta might reveal how the underlying “Reality OS” software is supposed to work.

  • The upcoming iOS 16 beta is reportedly “chock-full” of references to Apple’s rumored mixed-reality headset even though it won’t be previewed at WWDC22
  • Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman says Apple might unveil its mixed-reality headset at the end of 2022 or in 2023 instead of at WWDC22 this summer
  • The beta version of iOS 16, which will be released for testing at WWDC, apparently references the headset and its interactions with the iPhone

Will Apple announce its headset at WWDC22?

Mark Gurman wrote about this in his Power On newsletter on Bloomberg:

Apple originally had big plans to use WWDC 2022 as the launch event for its long-in-the-works mixed-reality headset. But I wrote a few months ago that Apple would likely miss that date for the hardware’s debut and would instead announce the product at the end of this year or next year.

Why not preview the headset at WWDC? It wouldn’t be the first time Apple previewed a product months ahead of launch. Giving developers and the general public a peek at the product during WWDC would be logical if your goal is to have key third-party developers ready their apps for the device’s launch.

As far as I know, a full-blown introduction of the mixed-reality headset is still probably out of the question in June, but I am told that beta versions of iOS 16—codenamed Sydney—are chock-full of references to the headset and its interactions with the iPhone.

If it’s true that iOS 16 references the unreleased headset, then this will be our biggest clue yet that the product is indeed coming. So far, we’ve only heard rumors about it. Without any leaked parts so far, some people even wondered whether Apple is working on this project at all. Those iOS 16 references will undoubtedly reveal much more about how an Apple-branded mixed-reality headset might work in real life.

That indicates that the headset will launch during the iOS 16 cycle, which kicks off in June and will last until iOS 17 comes in the fall of 2023. But it may also suggest that Apple could preview some of its upcoming augmented and virtual reality software earlier. Perhaps we could even get a peek at the headset’s rOS, short for reality operating system.

But would it make sense for the company to preview the rOS software without also showing people the actual device? At any rate, rumors from Apple’s supply chains suggest the head-worn device could be undergoing pre-production.

WWDC22 kicks off with a June 6 keynote

Apple will be kicking off its annual developers conference, WWDC, with a keynote on June 6. This will mark Apple’s third WWDC held virtually, meaning everyone will be able to attend from the comfort of their sofa without paying thousands of dollars for a seat at the venue. Following the keynote, Apple will release early developer previews of iOS 16 and other major software updates for its devices. This will be followed by the public beta a few weeks later. Apple will continue releasing new betas throughout the summer before publicly launching the updates ahead of new iPhones and other hardware in the fall. Read: 40+ ways to save battery on iPhone