According to reports, Meta has discontinued its custom operating system that was supposed to power upcoming augmented and virtual reality headsets, but its full reasoning and future plans remain unclear.
Today, The Information reported that the company formerly known as Facebook suspended the development of a project called XROS — an umbrella term for AR / VR. As a result, Meta uses the Android-based operating system that powers Quest (previously Oculus) VR devices, which is convenient but also makes Meta dependent on another company's software.
According to the Information article, XROS started developing in 2017 and had more than 300 developers working on it. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and CTO Andrew Bosworth have discussed the "reality operating system" publicly before. Zuckerberg, speaking in June of 2021, talked about making a "microkernel-based operating system" that would allow Meta to control every layer of its hardware. He said a team was "pretty far along" on the initiative, and put its advent "not too distant in the future."
No indication has been given that the cancellation of XROS will affect Meta's plans to produce new AR glasses, which include Project Aria and Nazare prototypes, but it may mean they use an Android OS.
Related Article: The Metaverse: Meta Is Tryna KILL YOU!!!
XROS development stopped after team lead Mark Lucovsky, formerly with Microsoft, announced he would move to Google to pursue an AR OS project similar to XROS. According to Lukovsky, he left after former Facebook employee Frances Haugen publicly accused the company of harmful business practices on 60 Minutes, as well as "the company's new metaverse-centric focus," referring to Meta's interest in VR and AR-heavy virtual worlds.
Despite this, Zuckerberg has looked to VR and AR as a way to escape Apple and Google's dominance in mobile phones. XROS could also be revived if the company decides to build its own operating system.
Meta rebutted the reports by stating “We are not halting or scaling back our operations in building a real operating system,” the statement reads. “The team continues to make progress and we continue to invest in building for future computing platforms like AR glasses and wearable devices to help realize our metaverse vision.”