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Tim Cook: Augmented Reality is as big of a technology as the smartphone

Published Feb 12th, 2017 1:30PM EST
Tim Cook Augmented Reality
Image: Shutterstock

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While Apple is typically very cautious when discussing upcoming products and technologies, the company’s interest in augmented reality is hardly a well-kept secret. In addition to some notable hires in the AR space, Tim Cook seems to wax poetic about the potential of AR every single time the topic comes up. While it remains to be seen if Apple’s interest in AR will ultimately manifest in a pair of AR-powered glasses or perhaps an iPhone with some intriguing built-in AR capabilities, it’s probably only a matter of time before we see what Apple’s engineers and researchers have been cooking up over at 1 Inifinte Loop.

Underscoring the degree to which Apple views AR as an incredibly important and powerful technology, Tim Cook, during a recent interview with The Independent, boldly claimed that AR is as big of an idea as the smartphone was way back when.

“I’m excited about Augmented Reality because unlike Virtual Reality which closes the world out,” Cook explained, “AR allows individuals to be present in the world but hopefully allows an improvement on what’s happening presently. Most people don’t want to lock themselves out from the world for a long period of time and today you can’t do that because you get sick from it. With AR you can, not be engrossed in something, but have it be a part of your world, of your conversation. That has resonance.”

Notably, this isn’t the first time that Cook has championed AR at the expense of VR. This is particularly interesting given some calls for Apple to enter the VR space, especially now that other high-tech companies like Facebook, Samsung, Google and others have entered the space. Incidentally, we’ve seen a handful of reports claiming that Apple will release a pair of AR-powered glasses by 2018.

Articulating why he believes that AR is as big of an idea as the smartphone, Cook’s enthusiasm was hard to miss:

“The smartphone is for everyone,” Cook added, “we don’t have to think the iPhone is about a certain demographic, or country or vertical market: it’s for everyone. I think AR is that big, it’s huge. I get excited because of the things that could be done that could improve a lot of lives. And be entertaining. I view AR like I view the silicon here in my iPhone, it’s not a product per se, it’s a core technology. But there are things to discover before that technology is good enough for the mainstream. I do think there can be a lot of things that really help people out in daily life, real-life things, that’s why I get so excited about it.”

All in all, it’s starting to look like the next two years may include a few watershed moments for Apple. Aside from Apple’s ongoing interest in AR, the upcoming 2017 iPhone 8 is starting to look like it will be worth every bit of the $1,000 that Apple will reportedly price it at.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.

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