There's increased chatter ahead of this year's WWDC in Apple Park. The biggest though is around whether we will finally see Apple's mixed reality headset, known at least in rumours as the Apple Reality Pro.
At this stage, I think it's almost certain that the device exists, even if its launch schedule is still a mystery to most. As much as I'm curious as to how it will look and what the specs will be, I started to think about the apps we might see on it.
If Apple does indeed announce the device, or even the operating system (xrOS or Reality OS, according to sources) it will be to give the developers time to create apps for it. Or at least to alter their existing apps to take advantage of the platform.
Virtual reality and augmented (or mixed) reality offer a huge potential for apps ranging from games to productivity. Meta's Quest VR headset has seen some big-name apps create versions specifically for VR, like Netflix's screening room, which lets you watch its shows on a virtual couch and a massive virtual TV. It has also provided ways to still access 2D apps within the virtual world, as a sort of workaround.
The chances are we will see a similar setup for Apple's device. Those with the capability will aim to provide a dedicated version of their apps specifically for the VR or AR environment, while others could still be available in 2D. Of course, Apple will have versions of its own apps ready and these will form the basis of the OS, while some games could be easily adapted from other VR platforms, such as Quest and PSVR.
So which are the apps you'd really want to use with an Apple headset? These are the ones I'm hoping to see at some point this year.
Facetime is perhaps the most obvious Apple service to move to a virtual or mixed reality setting. Whether the headset can collect video of your face to share to the other caller, or if it uses your Memoji, it could allow you to easily video chat to people without needing to be in front of a screen or holding your phone.
Find My would be an incredible app, especially with a mixed reality headset. Rather than relying on a chime or arrow directions from your phone, this could actually just show you where your device is in the room. It could still use arrows if you're facing the wrong way, or if it's on a different floor, or maybe some distance markers if it's a long way off. Having this in a headset could actually make AirTags even more useful.
Another essential tool for a mixed reality headset, and it already includes an augmented reality feature, so it's practically ready to go (sorry developers, I'm sure it's not that easy). But Maps could also be great in VR too, providing you with the ability to explore a city without moving.
Whether VR or AR, being able to watch Apple TV on a virtual big screen is a great use for a headset. It means that where ever you are, you can enjoy a cinematic movie experience, like when you're commuting or in a hotel, or even on a plane. A virtual reality version is probably better here, though mixed reality could let you place a screen anywhere you like.
While not an app as such, the ability to use a single keyboard and mouse over multiple devices is something that could tie in nicely with an Apple headset. Ideally, the headset's OS will allow you to swap easily between your headset and you iPhone, Apple Watch or Mac. It could allow you to create virtual screens to add to your Mac, or just bring content easily to and from the headset. It's this interaction between the devices where Apple really has the chance to make this device better than the competition.