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iOS 13 Code Confirms Apple AR Glasses & Spatial Interface Launcher

iOS 13 Code Confirms Apple AR Glasses & Spatial Interface Launcher

Last week, MacRumors reportedly found references to iPhone-connected AR glasses and a spatial launcher interface for them. This week the final iOS 13 build was released to developers which confirms the report.

The confirmation was made by developer Steve Troughton-Smith, who found a ReadMe file explaining how to test AR apps on iOS.

Reports that Apple is working on AR glasses first emerged in late 2017. In 2018, Apple acquired Akonia Holographics, a startup working on novel optics for AR based on holography.


iOS is the operating system of iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touch. The software which handles its familiar home screen interface is called SpringBoard. Springboard allows the user to position, categorize, uninstall, and launch iOS apps.

The MacRumours report claimed that iOS contained a “StarBoard” for launching AR apps. The ReadMe file found by Troughton-Smith confirms this, with StarBoard explicitly described as a “System [shell] for Stereo AR enabled apps”. This means StarBoard could be the spatial interface which allows users to browse and launch AR experiences.

These findings back up the patents suggesting that Apple’s AR glasses will be powered and controlled by the user’s iPhone, rather than a standalone device.

Garta ‘HME’

The MacRumors report noted that iOS13 contained references to an AR “device” named ‘Garta’, but no further details were given.

The ReadMe file lists Garta as a ‘HME’. While it’s not clear what the E stands for, HM likely refers to ‘head mounted’, as is used in ‘head mounted display’, a term used for all VR and AR headsets. This is further backed up by the fact that a stated purpose HME config is “so that Stereo AR knows what kind of distortions to apply“.

The vendor ID for Garta is ‘internal’, suggesting that this is an Apple device.

Two possible “states” for the Garta HME are listed, “worn” and “held”. This may suggest that Garta is a testing device which the iPhone slots in to, similar to Google Cardboard for VR.

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