Glasses atop an iPhone

What you need to know

  • Internal iOS 13 builds include a "STARTester" app .
  • An included README file suggest a headset is still being worked on.
  • This despite previous reports the headset project had been suspended.

Apple is believed to be working on building its own augmented reality (AR) headset despite previous reports that the project had been shelved. MacRumors has been able to get its hands on an internal build of iOS 13 that includes an app and multiple strings that were previously unknown.

The app, named "STARTester," allows a device to be switched to head-mounted mode. It's believed that this mode is to allow an iPhone to act as an AR headset of sorts. Two distinct states are offered within the app, with "worn" and "held" available to testers. There is also a README file included in the build which makes reference to a "StarBoard" shell for stereo AR-enabled apps. That would strongly suggest a headset of some sort with the codename "Garta" also mentioned within the same file.

When MacRumors looked into the internal iOS 13 build further it also noted new strings relating to a "StarBoard mode" along with a number of "views" and "scenes". Notably, many of those strings also include references to augmented reality within them which would again point to further AR work. Both "ARStarBoardViewController" and "ARStarBoardSceneManager" were discovered, according to the report.

Apple has been rumored to have designs on its own AR headset for months but a recent DigiTimes report suggested that the project was no more. If that report is incorrect we could potentially see a headset announced as soon as 2020 according to previous notes from supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.