xrOS: What will you see when you put on the Apple VR headset?

Man interacting with apps in VR
(Image credit: Getty Images/Hakule)

No, we don't know for sure that xrOS is the official name of the long-rumored Apple VR headset's operating system, but thanks to confirmation from Apple insiders (and Apple surreptitiously using shell companies to trademark the name), this morsel of gossip is likely accurate.

But let's get real here. What we really care about isn't the name Apple will slap on the headset's OS. We want to know how we'll interact with it, what it looks like, and how it will facilitate our navigation into the world of mixed reality. Here's everything we know about xrOS' user interface.

What will you see when you put on Apple's VR headset?

According to MacRumors, xrOS will have an iPadOS-esque UI. The dedicated home screen will feature apps, of course, and widgets that can be customized and rearranged by the user.

iPadOS 16

iPadOS 16 (Image credit: Apple)

Bean spillers say that users will have the opportunity to make selections by simply looking at a targeted button. If using your eyes isn't your thing, you can use a pinching gesture to make selections, too, which is similar to what one can do on the Meta Quest 2. (Keep in mind that the wearer's eyes and hands will be tracked by more than 12 optical cameras.) 

There's a chance that this UI can be superimposed on top of your real environment. Rumor has it that the Apple VR headset has a "reality dial," so the user may have the opportunity to fade in and fade out their surroundings to their liking. 

The Cupertino-based tech giant is also reportedly working on an in-air typing mechanism that won't be ready for primetime per se, but users will still have the opportunity to experiment with it inside the headset.


Apple's VR headset is expected to have an xrOS App Store. A Bloomberg report revealed that users will have access to "millions" of existing iPadOS apps from third-party developers. The home screen will also likely be packed with the following popular Apple apps (list is not exhaustive):

  • Safari
  • Photos
  • Notes
  • Music
  • Stocks
  • Weather
  • Messages
  • Maps
  • Apple TV
  • Apple Music
  • Apple Podcasts
  • Reminders
  • FaceTime

The made-for-headset FaceTime app may be a major selling point for users. According to Bloomberg, the FaceTime app will render a user's full face and body in virtual reality. On top of that, you can choose the meeting-room environment you want to kick off the video-conferencing calls in. As such, you'll feel like you and the person on the receiving end of the call are communicating inside the same 3D room.

Because the processing power to facilitate this feature is gargantuan, it can only handle one-on-one video calls. However, this doesn't mean you won't have the option to have more people join you for virtual chats. They'll just be represented as icons or Memojis  — not the full-body realistic avatars.

Memojis at WWDC 2021

Memojis (Image credit: Apple)

Apple is also reportedly working on a mixed-reality version of the Apple Books app, allowing users to kick back and read their favorite digital books in VR. In terms of health and wellness, an app will help users meditate via calming graphics, sounds and voice-overs. There will also likely be a Fitness+ service, allowing users to workout while a virtual instructor appears before them like a hologram, guiding them through exercises and stretches.

Enterprise users will appreciate that the Cupertino-based tech giant is also supposedly working on a VR version of the Freeform app, which lets users collaborate with others on a whiteboard.

If this is what's in store for us, the Apple VR headset sounds like it won't be the flop we thought it'd be. Its reported $3,000 price tag is shocking, but hey, since when has sticker shock stopped Apple fans from securing an Apple product?

For more information about the Apple mixed-reality headset and xrOS, check out our oft-updated Apple AR/VR headset rumor hub.

Kimberly Gedeon

Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!