It’s no secret that Apple’s culture of secrecy forbids even the most powerful at the company from spilling details about upcoming products. But, as CEO Tim Cook has illustrated frequently in the past, there are ways to drop hints and talk around the concrete facts.
Much like how Cook gave rough outlines in interviews of Apple’s interest in the TV space, the executive is now doing the same for augmented reality. And if past comments from Cook are any indication, a product unveiling could be around the corner. The latest comments, from an interview the Apple chief gave to The Independent, indicate that Cook sees AR as a fundamental, revolutionary technology similar to the smartphone.
I regard it as a big idea, like the smartphone. The smartphone is for everyone, 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.
Cook goes on to say that he views AR like the silicon used in the iPhone’s chips, in other words as a “core technology” and “not a product per se.” Back in September, Cook told Good Morning America that AR held more potential than virtual reality because it allowed people to remain present in the real world while interacting with technology.
These comments are not just the random pontifications of a tech CEO. Apple, and Cook in particular, has honed his skills at cryptically talking up product roadmaps, announcements, and secret projects without having to confirm on-the-record that the company is up to anything at all. These comments are straight from that playbook, indicating to investors, analysts, and eager Apple fans that work is underway on these technologies and announcements may happen sooner rather than later.
It’s well known now, from job postings and leaks, that the company has hundreds of employees working on AR and VR applications to some end. It’s just not yet clear what kinds of hardware or software the company may be trying to produce. More than likely, Apple will take light steps into the space, starting with AR tech similar to Google’s Project Tango. However, we can’t rule out the possibility that Apple is interested in developing a headset of its own or smart glasses of some sort. And if Cook keeps talking up AT at this level of frequency, we can be sure that something interesting is not too far off from a public reveal.