Sunday, July 21, 2024

How Apple wants to integrate its AR headset with iPhone & Mac

Apple’s forthcoming headset was always going to work alongside iPhone and Mac, but a newly-filed patent application describes just what the company wants to happen.

The patent application, “Multi-device continuity for use with extended reality systems,” centers on passing work, such as documents, from one device, into a headset.

“Implementations of the subject technology described herein provide transfer of content, editing control of the content, and/or control of one or more applications from one device to another device, using an XRsystem,” it says. “For example, with the subject technology, a user drafting an email on their smart phone can place the smartphone in the field of view of an XR device (e.g., a tablet device or a head mountable system) and continue drafting the email in an XR environment created by the XR device.”

Apple has previously applied for patents that let an AR headset wearer see objects or text on a device which appears blank to other people. This new patent application could be referring to the same thing, with the extension that the wearer could both see and interact with other device’s display.

However, Apple’s new filing does refer to the company’s “handoff” feature five times. Handoff is where bringing an iPhone near to a HomePod mini, for instance, automatically transfers the currently playing track to the speaker.

So it could be that looking at the other device is enough to get the headset to load the document itself. A user could then put away the iPhone and continuing working on the document from within the headset.

“Responsive to a detection of the user looking at or gesturing toward the smart speaker device by the XR device,” continues the patent application, “a song that is playing on the user’s phone can be transferred to play on the smart speaker device.”

Detail from the patent showing a headset view of superimposing a user interface onto a real-world device

“Three-dimensional information regarding the devices in the physical environment can be gathered by the XR device,” says the document, first spotted by PatentlyApple, “and used to facilitate smooth and continuous transfer of control and/or content between the devices and/or the XR device.”

This patent application also mentions how a user could continue to write on a document in a virtual space — and it’s the same method Meta has just described. A user would be able to move their fingers as if typing on a real keyboard, and have those movements create text on a virtual one.

The patent application was filed internationally, rather than with the US Patent Office. Apple sometimes does this to avoid the scrutiny its US filings get, though, and it’s unlikely that the company would not apply for patents worldwide.


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