From “Apple’s headset plans are hiding in plain sight” mailed Friday to Bloomberg’s Fully Charged subscribers:
Here’s a look at the features included in iOS 15 that could also be essential to Apple’s upcoming headsets, including a mixed AR and VR device for a likely launch in 2022, and the AR glasses planned for a few years after that.
- Updates to FaceTime: As Bloomberg has reported before, a core use of Apple’s first planned AR and VR product will be communicating with people.
- Maps: Apple’s iOS 15 adds AR-enabled turn-by-turn walking directions. When the company ultimately releases a pair of AR-only glasses—a release said to be slated for later this decade—the ability to beam mapping directions onto actual streets is likely to be a key feature.
- Improved Siri and voice input: Siri and voice control could be a critical way of interacting with Apple’s future headsets
- Live text: iOS 15 will be able to parse out text or numbers from photos
- Visual lookup: Apple’s new operating system can now do a better job of seeing objects, recognizing them, and looking them up online. That’s a feature that has obvious applications for an AR device.
My take: There’s a reason “Apple’s plans hiding in plain sight” is a popular trope (Google it). As Gurman notes, this wouldn’t be the first time Apple has built features in one year’s iOS to support a next-year hardware launch.
In iOS 8 in 2014, Apple added the Health app, new quick messaging and typing features, and the ability to start doing something on one device then continue that task on another. At the time, those features all had the clear capability to support a future Apple Watch launch in 2015, which they did.