Apple is reportedly adding augmented reality content into Apple TV+, its subscription streaming video service.
According to Bloomberg, the feature will debut next year and allow viewers to access optional AR content – like characters and objects from Apple TV+ shows – through their iPhones or iPads.
Augmented reality could potentially help attract more subscribers to Apple TV+, which last week also revealed a new discounted bundle featuring CBS All Access and Showtime for Apple TV+ subscribers, who pay $4.99/month for the service. The announcement confirmed a report earlier this month from Bloomberg, which suggested that Apple is relying on discounted service bundles to make up for Apple TV+’s lack of library content. Apple is reportedly later this year launching a bigger push into service bundles, called “Apple One.”
An AR feature for Apple TV+ would likely build off other reported efforts for Apple in the AR/VR space. According to Bloomberg, the company is planning to release a mixed AR/VR headset in 2022 and an AR headset in 2023.
Apple this week also acquired Spaces, a location-based virtual reality startup that was spun off from DreamWorks Animation, according to a report from Protocol.
Earlier this year, Apple acquired NextVR, a technology startup that produces live virtual reality broadcasts of sporting events, concerts and more.
Financial details were not disclosed but 9to5Mac, which first reported the deal last month, said the transaction could be valued at $100 million. NextVR, which Bloomberg said officially shut down in May, closed its website too and said it’s “heading in a new direction.”
“Streaming specialist NextVR could allow Apple to translate original content on Apple TV+ into the VR format. Although VR-based streaming is a niche area now, competition is increasing. Google and Disney are already active in this space (with YouTube VR and Hulu VR, respectively) and Apple will have its work hard to catch up,” said Rupantar Guha, senior analyst for thematic research at GlobalData.