Apple could be bringing the iPhone's Handoff to your head

The same Continuity features that unite iPhone, iPad and Mac could be in Apple's AR/VR headset too

What the Apple AR headset might look like
(Image credit: Ahmed Chenni,

The closer we get to Apple's AR/VR headset launch, the more we're hearing about Apple's plans – and sometimes the source of that information is Apple itself, albeit indirectly. For years, Apple watchers have rifled through Apple's patent filings, reading the technological tea leaves to predict future Apple products and features.

The latest such find is about Continuity, the feature that enables seamless Handoff transfers between your iPhone, iPad and Mac – so for example you can move calls from device to device, start work on your phone and pick it up on your Mac and so on. The patent, "Multi-Device Continuity for use with Extended Reality (XR) Systems", extends that to the AR/VR headset and does it with some style.

Why these predictions aren't patent nonsense

I've been reporting on Apple patents for mumblemumble years now, so I'm well aware that a lot of Apple's filings are purely speculative: they're often moonshots, or ideas so far in the future that the tech to make them real is still years away. But sometimes, like this patent, they're much more focused on the near future.

That doesn't mean this feature will be in the first generation AR/VR headset. But it appears to be on Apple's to-do list at the very least.

Apple's examples are pretty interesting. In the patent they describe looking at an email on your iPhone, swiping your hand or switching your gaze and seeing it in the air in front of you. You'd then compose your message by waggling your fingers.

In another example, you're playing music and you look at or gesture at a nearby HomePod. Boom! The music moves. Apple also describes using the virtual display as an extended display while you're working on your Mac.

This is all genuinely exciting stuff, but I don't think we'll see it in the first generation Apple AR/VR headset that's expected to launch this summer. But the features Apple describes in its patent have exactly the kind of wow factor that make AR feel like something you'd actually want to use, so we may well see it in the second, more consumer-oriented headset generation that Apple is currently designing.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (