More AR headset pointers discovered in an internal iOS 13 build

iPhone, iPad, and sunglasses
iPhone, iPad, and sunglasses (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

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.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.