New Continuity Features Could Come to Apple’s Extended Reality

BY Dave Johnson

Published 2 Mar 2023

VR headset Unsplash

A recent patent suggests that Apple could bring new Continuity features to its forthcoming mixed-reality headset. 

Apple uses the term “Continuity” to describe how its devices interact seamlessly within the ecosystem. 

For example, Handoff allows iPhone users to switch to another nearby Apple device and pick up from the exact app they left off. Similarly, the Continuity camera allows macOS Ventura (or later) users to substitute an iPhone’s camera for the webcam. 

There are several other Continuity features within the Apple ecosystem, such as: 

  •  AirPlay to Mac
  • Auto Unlock and Approve with Apple Watch”
  • Universal Control
  • Universal Clipboard
  • Continuity Markup
  • Continuity Sketch
  • Sidecar

Yes, the list is quite long — but it could grow even longer soon. 

Last week, the European Patent Office published Apple’s recent patent application titled “Multi-Device Continuity for use with Extended Reality (XR) Systems.” The document shows how Continuity functions between an XR headset and other Apple devices might work. 

Here’s a breakdown. 

Continuity Operations Between Extended Reality and Other Apple Devices

In the first scenario, a headset wearer looks over at an email on an iPhone screen, which also includes a virtual replica of the Mail app’s interface. Then the user can transfer the email to a larger virtual display suspended in an environment using a hand gesture or gaze switch. 

Another scenario involves users switching songs playing on the iPhone’s media app to the HomePod with just a gaze. That means you won’t need to approach the smart speaker to transfer the music— you only need to look at it. 

“This handoff logic can be via a direct peer-to-peer connection and/or facilitated by a cloud server,” note the patent authors.

The patent includes several other scenarios that show the XR headset “managing continuous transfer of control between other devices in the system responsive to three-dimensional location-based user inputs, and/or… one or more of the other devices and the device itself.”

The number of Continuity features expected from Apple’s forthcoming XR headset is unclear. However, a recent report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman suggests that the headset could launch at WWDC in June. 

So there’s time to learn more about the device.