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The Apple Metaverse: What We Know So Far

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An Apple metaverse could be closer than you’d think.

Many major tech giants have already shown significant interest in the Metaverse – the concept of a more immersive digital environment. However, some have shown a greater focus on this space than others. Meta, Microsoft, and even Google have all shared insights into their own metaverse vision.

However, Apple has remained largely absent from the metaverse conversation. The company even declined an opportunity to join the Metaverse Standards Forum. It’s worth noting that Apple isn’t the only tech giant to side-step this community. Brands like Alphabet remain absent too.

Though Apple hasn’t revealed much information about an upcoming “Apple Metaverse,” there are some signs that it could be gradually entering the landscape. Here’s everything we know so far.

Apple’s Approach to the Metaverse

The “Apple Metaverse” might not be outlined as clearly as Meta’s vision of the Metaverse or solutions from similar providers, but it is growing. During an interview in April 2023, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook described something similar to a “metaverse” when discussing the company’s future plans.

Cook shared his excitement about the concept of overlapping virtual and physical worlds in the years ahead. He also said his thoughts about the metaverse and similar technologies are constantly evolving.

Similarly, Apple’s recent announcements in the XR landscape indicate an increased investment in metaverse tech. The tech giant unveiled its first mixed-reality headset at the WWDC this year. The Apple Vision Pro certainly offers users a way to experience a version of the metaverse.

The headset enables users to immerse themselves in virtual and augmented reality experiences. It also empowers individuals to access and experiment with content and apps in a more immersive format. The device also comes equipped with Apple’s metaverse-style operating system, VisionOS.

The launch of this new operating system, built around the concept of spatial computing, indicates Apple will, at the very least, empower new users to create experiences for the metaverse. Insights into the device and its operating system highlight several practical uses.

While Meta has attempted to sell its vision on the metaverse based on apps like Horizon Worlds and realistic avatars, Apple seems to be creating a different environment. With access to collaborative tools and communication capabilities, Apple’s headset could contribute to the concept of “Metawork.”

How Apple is Addressing Metaverse Challenges

Apple’s recent XR announcements don’t include a splashy overview of an upcoming Apple Metaverse. However, they did show the tech giant isn’t as removed from the metaverse competition as it may appear. The Apple Vision Pro headset certainly addresses a few metaverse challenges.

With the headset, users access an intuitive interface that eliminates the need for controllers. Apple is giving users a more immersive experience through innovative hand-tracking and eye-tracking capabilities. This indicates the device will address the metaverse goal of bringing the real and digital worlds closer together.

The Vision Pro also addresses another metaverse challenge – creating and managing digital personas. One of the most compelling features of the metaverse is the ability for users to connect naturally in an immersive environment. However, the use of cartoon-like avatars can reduce immersion.

The Vision Pro may address this issue by allowing for the creation of more authentic digital personas. According to Apple, Pro users can scan their faces and create matching versions of themselves for the digital world. Additionally, integrations with leading apps for entertainment and work should help to accelerate the adoption of an Apple metaverse experience.

Patents Hint at the Creation of an Apple Metaverse

Even if Apple isn’t actively promoting a metaverse vision, it’s still taking steps behind the scenes. Even during massive tech layoffs, Apple’s job board features several roles linked to developing immersive experiences.

As of August 2023, the company was actively advertising for roles like “Vision Scientist” and AR/VR network engineers responsible for creating frameworks for 3D mixed-reality worlds. The brand has also been working on filling its “Technology Development Group” team. This team is responsible for Apple’s AR and VR technology innovations.

At the same time, emerging insights into patents submitted by Apple reveal some interesting trends. In 2022 Apple was issued a patent for its virtual and augmented reality headset. This patent was filed under a Delaware shell company used by Apple to help keep its innovations under wraps.

In 2022, PatentlyApple.com also revealed that the company was given a patent for computer-generated reality experiences. Specifically, the patent examines how Apple can use technologies to enhance the experiences of entering and exiting computer-generated reality environments.

The techniques described in Apple’s patents would allow users to preview metaverse environments and customize their digital experience before entering them.

Evidence of Apple Investing in the Metaverse

Perhaps the most significant forms of evidence highlighting the rise of a potential “Apple Metaverse” experience are linked to the patents created by the brand. Since Apple announced its Vision Pro headset this year, most people have become aware of Patent 11,450,297.

This approved document enables Apple to create a mixed-reality headset with virtual and augmented reality solutions.

However, other patents have been evaluated by industry analysts too. For instance, Patent 11570417 looks at Apple’s approach to designing a unique viewing experience. Through the VisionOS ecosystem, Apple can present users with imagery that adjusts to the positioning of their heads.

This technology could enhance the experience on Apple’s Vision Pro headset for metaverse users, and create a deeper sense of immersion, without the risk of VR motion sickness.

While many of these patents could be described as simple solutions for enhancing the Vision Pro and VisionOS experiences, they also play a role in a potential Apple Metaverse. The stronger the virtual experiences and immersion Apple offers, the more of a role it can play in creating future digital environments.

Creating Experiences in the Metaverse

Recently, it was also revealed that Apple had been awarded patents allowing it to give users more controlled experiences in the metaverse. One patent will enable Apple to use Siri to evaluate the jaw movements of users to confirm verbal commands.

The other will allow Apple to use various forms of technology to mitigate vandalism and cyberbullying in the metaverse. With this second patent, Apple describes a scenario where users can be prevented from “vandalizing” the metaverse environments of other users.

This isn’t the first time Apple has filed patents to help users feel protected in digital spaces. In 2021, the company also filed a patent to protect users from intruders and cyberbullies.

The patent would allow users to eliminate intruders from their virtual space or personal metaverse. According to the patent, when one or more criteria for social interaction in the Apple metaverse are breached, the avatars causing problems would become invisible.

These filings suggest that Apple is working on common issues associated with the metaverse, even if it hasn’t announced an official “Apple Metaverse” yet.

Will There be an Apple Metaverse?

Apple doesn’t use the term “Metaverse” very often in its marketing or sales copy. There aren’t any official mentions of an “Apple metaverse” yet. However, that doesn’t mean the company isn’t looking for ways to compete in this new digital landscape.

Apple’s vision for its cutting-edge mixed reality solutions does seem to include many of the elements referenced by other market leaders, like Meta, in their discussions of the metaverse. It may be that Apple is avoiding the term to separate itself from Meta and other vendors.

Right now, Apple seems to be focusing on drawing attention to the underlying technology behind its immersive experiences. The company is investing heavily in using the term “spatial computing,” for instance.

However, you look at it; the evidence suggests that Apple is investing in many elements crucial to a successful metaverse. It just remains to be seen how the tech giant’s vision will play out in the years to come after the release of the Vision Pro.

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