With less than a month to go until the WWDC keynote, there’s even more evidence that Apple is planning to launch its new mixed-reality headset. According to a secret trademark, the company has seemingly confirmed the name of the new device’s operating system: xrOS, with the first two letters standing for “extended reality.”
Eagle-eyed Parker Ortolani, who works for the Verge, noticed that Apple last week applied to the New Zealand Intellectual Property Office for a trademark on a logo that is simply the word “xrOS” in the company’s proprietary SF Pro typeface. Back in December Bloomberg reported that Apple had switched from realityOS to xrOS as the name for the software, and this discovery appears to confirm that claim.
As is common with Apple, the trademark application was made under the name of a shell company, which makes spotting these a little more difficult. But veteran Cupertino watchers have learned to expect these kinds of maneuvers, and the shell company used this time, Deep Dive LLC, has been involved in lots of xrOS trademark activity in the past, as Patently Apple documented in admirable depth back in December. Interestingly, Patently Apple puts forward the theory that, rather than switching to xrOS by choice, Apple found that it was too difficult to acquire the necessary trademarks for realityOS in the U.S.
At any rate, xrOS is arguably a better brand in terms of communicating what Apple intends to achieve with its upcoming portfolio of products. While realityOS doesn’t pin the company down to virtual, augmented, or mixed reality, extended reality actively emphasizes the ambition to grow beyond any one aspect of the field. Apple is believed to be planning an entire ecosystem of xrOS products, beginning with one headset but going on to encompass a second and likely cheaper version, plus a range of related devices. (One possibility is a set of smart glasses, although these are understood to be on hold at the moment.) The principal downside is that Apple already released the iPhone XR, but that phone may now be sufficiently elderly that few customers will be confused.
But all of these matters should be cleared up soon. Following numerous reported delays, Apple’s first ever mixed-reality headset is expected to make its public debut at WWDC on June 5. You can keep up with all the latest news, leaks, and rumors with our regularly updated Apple Reality Pro headset superguide.