Updating: Meta sent a statement to The Verge to clarify that it is “not ceasing or scaling back our activities in building a reality operating system.” It goes on to say that “the team continues to make progress and we continue to invest in building for future computing platforms such as AR glasses and wearables to help realize our metaverse vision,” suggesting that while the work on this particular version of the idea, Meta still won’t rely on Android forever.
Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, has pulled the plug on its current efforts to develop an operating system for AR and VR devices, The Information reports today.
Citing “two people familiar with the decision,” the article claims that Meta will return to the status quo of Oculus devices — and perhaps future mixed reality devices — on a modified version of Google’s Android mobile operating system. Phones.
The project, which was internally called XROS, had reportedly been going on for years and “involved hundreds of employees”. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg talked about his potential just a few months ago. The reasons for Meta’s decision to pull the plug are not publicly known at this time.
From the outside, the decision looks like a major setback in a brewing war over mixed reality between Meta, Apple and possibly other tech giants. Apple’s upcoming VR or AR headsets will no doubt run a custom operating system designed to utilize tight integration with the hardware for strong performance and a stable experience.
It could be difficult for Facebook to compete without its own, core software. That said, Facebook and Apple could end up targeting very different use cases for AR and VR; their ultimate strategies remain a mystery to most.
Facebook was renamed “Meta” as part of an overall linchpin for the company toward developing more immersive experiences — the name is a (somewhat off-target) nod to the science fiction metaverse. The change suggested that Meta sees mixed reality or XR (a collective name for both AR and VR technologies) as the company’s future.
It’s therefore surprising that Meta has reportedly decided to stop working on XROS, but it’s also possible that the project will be reborn in a different form in the future.
Analysts and reporters have published reports stating that Apple’s first mixed reality headset could hit the market as early as this year, though it’s unlikely to be a mass-market consumer device. Meta is already on the market thanks to the Oculus acquisition and the obvious success of the Oculus Quest. But this apparent setback suggests that Apple has an edge on some aspects of the technology.
That said, there are also reports that Apple has been draining talent from its AR division to other companies, including Meta, for reasons not yet clear.
If there’s one obvious distraction from these developments, it might be that the much-predicted mixed reality revolution is still in its troubled infancy.