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Apple’s VR headset could get these surprise iOS features

Recent weeks have brought some interesting revelations about Apple’s upcoming mixed-reality headset, including details on its realityOS operating system. Now, a new report says the device could use two staple features of iOS: Memoji and SharePlay.

The news comes from reporter Mark Gurman, who has a history of providing accurate leaks and rumors regarding Apple devices. In his latest Power On newsletter, Gurman explains that Memoji and SharePlay will enable Apple’s headset to provide a FaceTime experience similar to what Apple users already get on iOS and MacOS.

A persona creating a Memoji on an iPhone running iOS 12.
A person creating a Memoji on an iPhone. Brenda Stolyar/Digital Trends

“I imagine a virtual reality version of FaceTime where you can be in a conference room with dozens of people,” Gurman explained. “Instead of seeing their actual faces, you’ll see 3D versions of them (Memojis). I assume the headset will be able to determine a person’s facial expressions in real time, making the experience fairly lifelike. I would also look for heavy use of SharePlay in the new realityOS, allowing multiple headset wearers to experience music, movies and games together.”

Introduced in 2018, Memojis are customizable cartoon-like avatars that use augmented reality to map themselves to your facial expressions. SharePlay, meanwhile, appeared in 2021 and provides a single set of playback controls to anyone on a group FaceTime call. This allows participants to listen to music or watch a movie together in real time.

These features are in line with what Gurman has claimed before. In January 2022, Gurman stated that communications will be at the heart of Apple’s headset, saying people should expect “Animojis and a VR FaceTime-like experience” will make the product “the new-age Zoom.”

With support for Memoji and SharePlay, Apple could be hoping its headset will provide a familiar experience to anyone who has previously taken part in a FaceTime call. There is speculation that Apple might be laying the groundwork with features in other Apple products, such as spatial audio with dynamic head tracking in AirPods and augmented reality walking directions in Apple Maps.

The more that people are familiar with these features, the thinking goes, the easier the introduction of Apple’s headset will be. And since the device is probably delayed until 2023, there’s still plenty of time for Apple to get us ready.

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