Meta Abandons Mixed Reality Headset OS Development Ahead of Apple’s Headset Launch

BY Chandraveer Mathur

Published 5 Jan 2022

Oculus Quest standalone VR headset launches in 2019

Meta Platforms Inc. (formerly Facebook) has reportedly halted the development of its proprietary operating system (OS) for AR and VR devices. The company will continue using a customized version of Android in the near future.

A report from The Information claims that Meta stopped the development of a custom OS for the Oculus range of VR devices and the upcoming AR glasses in November last year. According to people familiar with the matter, the development of the OS, internally known as “XROS,” had commenced in 2017 and involved 300+ employees of the social media giant over the years.

The report doesn’t mention why the development was halted. However, it says that the decision is seen as a “setback for the company’s attempt to own the underlying software behind its Oculus VR headset and future augmented or mixed reality devices.”

Present-day Oculus Quest VR devices run a tweaked version of Android known as VROS but developing proprietary software would help Meta reduce its dependency on Google and Apple. Unfortunately, it appears that won’t be happening anytime soon. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has long been concerned about Apple and Google’s command over devices and services critical to the company’s business. Meta recently expressed displeasure about this when it opposed Apple’s App Tracking Transparency guidelines introduced with iOS 14.

For the immediate future, Meta has instructed some employees to “continue modifying an open-source version of Android which Google developed for smartphones but which other companies have used to power various devices.”

Meanwhile, rumors about Apple’s upcoming mixed reality headset are gathering steam. Most recently, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo speculated that the headset would launch late in 2022 with two “three-part pancake lenses.” Hours before that rumor, Display Supply Chain (DSCC) speculated that the wearable would feature a unique three-display configuration.

That said, do you believe Meta can soldier on with an Android-based OS for Oculus’ AR and VR products? Moreover, would consumers benefit from a custom OS?

[Via The Information]