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Apple Beta Code Reportedly Reveals AR Headset Field Of View


Code found in iOS 13.1 beta 3 reveals the field of view of three Apple AR devices, according to a Twitter user who posted a video of the device simulation testing mode.

Reports that Apple is working on AR glasses first emerged in late 2017. In 2018, Apple acquired Akonia Holographics, a startup working on novel optics for AR based on holography.

Two weeks ago, MacRumors reportedly found references to iPhone-connected AR glasses called ‘Garta’, and a spatial launcher interface for them called ‘StarBoard’. Last week, the final iOS 13 build was released to developers, and developer Steve Troughton-Smith was able to inspect the code and confirm the report’s claims.

Twitter user xSnow has managed, somehow, to activate the testing mode for this system, StarTester. They posted a video with it running with their own scene. xSnow claims that as well as the previously reported ‘Garta’, the code contains details about two other devices named ‘Franc’ and ‘Luck’.

The way in which StarBoard has been shown to run on iPhone once again backs up the patents suggesting that Apple’s AR glasses will be powered and controlled by the user’s iPhone, rather than a standalone device.

Interestingly, the details in the code also reveal the exact field of view. Franc’s FoV is listed as 47°×40°, Luck’s as 46°×34°, and Garta’s as 49°×47°. This would give Garta a larger field of view than Microsoft’s HoloLens 2.

Apple Garta FoV

There is no direct indication of what form factor ‘Garta’ has, but given Apple’s design philosophies it seems possible the company has managed to achieve this field of view in something resembling glasses. While this is still not a wide field of view compared to virtual reality headsets, it would be a step forward for AR.

Apple Garta FoV

If it can bring an AR device to market, Apple may come into direct competition with Facebook, which also has the goal of developing compact AR glasses. While Apple is almost always secretive about new products, we may see some early preview’s of Facebook’s technology next week at Oculus Connect 6.

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