This is how Apple wants to integrate its AR headset with iPhone & Mac

Apple’s forthcoming headset should always work alongside the iPhone and Mac, but a newly filed patent application describes exactly what the company hopes to achieve.

The patent application “Multi-Device Continuity for use with Extended Reality Systems” focuses on transferring work, such as documents, from a device to a headset.

“Implementations of the subject technology described herein enable the transmission of content, editing control of the content, and/or control of one or more applications from one device to another device using an XR system,” it states. “For example, a user composing an email on their smartphone can use the present technology to bring the smartphone into the field of view of an XR device (e.g. XR environment created by the XR device.”

Apple has previously filed patents that allow an AR headset wearer to see objects or text on a device that appears blank to other people. This new patent application could refer to the same thing, with the extension that the wearer can both see and interact with another device’s display.

However, Apple’s new filing refers to the company’s “handover” function five times. For example, Handoff involves bringing an iPhone near a HomePod mini to automatically stream the currently playing track to the speaker.

So it could be that looking at the other device is enough for the headset to load the document itself. A user could then put down the iPhone and continue working on the document from the headset.

“In response to a detection by the XR device of the user looking at or pointing at the smart speaker device,” the patent application continues, “a song playing on the user’s phone may be speaker device.”

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Detail from the patent showing a headset view overlaying a user interface on a real device

“Three-dimensional information about the devices in the physical environment can be collected from the XR device,” states the document, first discovered by PatentlyApple, “and used to ensure smooth and continuous transfer of control and/or content between the Devices and/or or the XR Device.”

This patent application also mentions how a user could continue writing on a document in a virtual space – and it’s the same method that Meta just described. A user could move their fingers as if typing on a real keyboard and have those movements create text on a virtual keyboard.

The patent application was filed internationally and not with the US Patent Office. However, Apple sometimes does this to avoid scrutiny of its US filings, and it’s unlikely the company would not file for worldwide patents.