Apple is apparently working on a way to let you make apps for its long-rumored mixed reality headset using Siri, according to a new report from The Information. Yes, that Siri, the one that routinely messes up basic requests or errors out in frustrating ways, will apparently be able to create entire augmented reality (AR) apps that you’ll be able to share with others on the App Store.
The technology behind this app-building tool comes from a 2017 acquisition of a startup named Fabric Software, which The Information is the first to report on. According to The Information, the development tool could “allow users to build an app with virtual animals moving around a room and over or around real-life objects without the need to design the animal from scratch, program its animations and calculate its movement in a 3D space with obstacles.” I suspect there will be a non-Siri option as well; The Information says Apple wants to make the tool like Minecraft and Roblox, which both offer user-friendly ways to make virtual worlds.
To help people create 3D models for apps, Apple is also working on a way to scan real-world objects with the headset. That sounds somewhat similar to Epic’s free RealityScan app, which, in my limited and unscientific testing, had some trouble recreating objects I had around my house, but perhaps Apple’s headset will do a better job.
If the development tools actually do work as intended, it could significantly lower the barrier to entry for making AR apps for the headset. Interesting apps could make the potentially expensive headset a more attractive purchase; the iPhone arguably started to come into its own when Apple officially introduced the App Store, after all.
Apple is also developing its own AR apps and may put a focus on health and wellness for the device, The Information reports. To me, that’s not too surprising given the success of fitness-focused apps on the Quest like Within (which Meta is trying to buy, though it may walk away from the deal because of an antitrust lawsuit from the FTC). I also think Apple’s own AR fitness apps could tie in well with the company’s existing fitness efforts like the Apple Watch and the Fitness Plus service.
According to The Information, Apple is more interested in AR than VR with the headset, as senior execs apparently find VR isolating. That’s not too surprising, as CEO Tim Cook has repeatedly praised AR, and the company is reportedly working on AR glasses (though we might not be seeing those anytime soon). That said, the company’s first headset is still rumored to have advanced VR capabilities and let you switch in and out of VR with a digital crown.
Apple didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.