Gurman: FaceTime for Apple AR/VR Headset Could Rely on Memojis and SharePlay

Memojis and SharePlay could be central to the FaceTime experience on Apple’s long-rumored mixed-reality headset, according to Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman.

General Apps FaceTime
Gurman, who often reveals accurate insights into Apple’s plans, has previously said that Apple’s mixed-reality headset will focus on gaming, media consumption, and communication. The headset itself is rumored to run “rOS” or “realityOS,” internally codenamed “Oak.”

In his latest Power On newsletter, Gurman clarified what he expects from ‌FaceTime‌ in realityOS, proposing that it may revolve around two of the company’s existing experiences: Memojis and SharePlay.

I imagine a virtual reality version of FaceTime where you can be in a conference room with dozens of people. Instead of seeing their actual faces, you’ll see 3D versions of them (Memojis). I assume the headset will be able to determine a person’s facial expressions in real time, making the experience fairly lifelike. I would also look for heavy use of SharePlay in the new realityOS, allowing multiple headset wearers to experience music, movies and games together.

Apple’s work on realityOS has been rumored since 2017, but the existence of the operating system was finally confirmed this week when references to it were found in App Store upload logs and Apple open source code.

Apple introduced Memojis in 2018 with iOS 12, while SharePlay is a much more recent addition that arrived with iOS 15.1 last year. Speculation suggests that many new features Apple has released in recent years, such as ARKit, AR walking directions in Apple Maps, spatial audio with dynamic head tracking, and the LiDAR scanner, are destined for its mixed-reality headset in the long run, enabling the company to make users familiar with some of the headset’s aspects and publicly iterate on them long before its release. It seems plausible that Memoji and SharePlay could also be part of this strategy.

Despite enthusiasm over Apple’s headset project “approaching liftoff” this year, Gurman now believes that development issues are likely to delay the device’s announcement until WWDC 2023.

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