Apple is reportedly finalizing its “mixed reality” headset for a 2023 release, which could lead to a spike in demand for technologists skilled in both augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).
According to Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman (as summarized by 9to5Mac), Apple is putting the final touches on the headset’s software (codenamed “Oak”). Despite a hiring slowdown, the company is also looking for engineers who can build software for AR and VR environments.
One job posted Nov. 10 on Apple’s website suggests the company wants engineers who can help with “ideating, building, and shipping groundbreaking experiences that build on top of the incredible capabilities of AR and VR.” In other words, helping refine the frameworks that will allow third-party developers and outside companies to build AR and VR experiences for a headset.
Apple has spent years preparing the ground for this new platform. If you’ve built anything for the company’s iOS ecosystem, you might be familiar with RealityKit, its AR tooling platform for motion capture and people occlusion (i.e., evaluating the relative positions of virtual objects and actual people); Apple has been encouraging developers to play around with it since WWDC 2019.
That’s in addition to ARKit, which allows developers to create AR experiences for their iPhones and iPads, and could be easily tweaked for AR glasses of some kind. While there have been some AR hits on iPhones—“Pokemon Go” was a huge hit back in 2016—the technology hasn’t seen widespread adoption on mobile.
An Apple headset could change all that. While Facebook has aggressively pushed its Quest headset and “metaverse” ecosystem of AR and VR apps, Apple has spent the past few decades building up a considerable reputation in hardware—one that could finally attract a new generation of developers and other tech professionals to the possibilities of AR and VR.