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Tim Cook says Apple wants to use AR to make conversations better

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And hints at Apple’s interest in building a car

Photo by Dieter Bohn / The Verge

Apple CEO Tim Cook rarely provides details on unannounced products, but he offered some hints about Apple’s thinking on augmented reality and cars in an interview with Kara Swisher for The New York Times this morning.

When it comes to augmented reality, he agreed with Swisher’s framing that the tech is “critically important” to Apple’s future and said it could be used to enhance conversations.

“You and I are having a great conversation right now. Arguably, it could even be better if we were able to augment our discussion with charts or other things to appear,” Cook said. He imagines AR being used in health, education, retail, and gaming. “I’m already seeing AR take off in some of these areas with use of the phone. And I think the promise is even greater in the future.”

Apple has been rumored for years to be working on an augmented reality headset, and the latest leaks suggested a mixed reality device could launch next year. Augmented reality features are already available on the iPhone and iPad, but outside of some fun Snapchat filters, augmented reality hasn’t become all that widely used yet.

Cook also talked broadly about Apple’s approach to products during a question about cars. Leaks from Apple have made it unclear if the company is developing self-driving tech that it could license to other companies or if Apple plans to develop an entire car by itself. Cook’s latest comments suggest the latter, assuming the project comes to fruition.

“We love to integrate hardware, software, and services, and find the intersection points of those because we think that’s where the magic occurs,” Cook said. “And so that’s what we love to do. And we love to own the primary technology that’s around that.”

Cook referred to “autonomy” as a “core technology” and said there are “lots of things you can do” with it in connection with robots. But he warned that not every Apple project eventually ships. “We investigate so many things internally. Many of them never see the light of day,” Cook said. “I’m not saying that one will not.”

Swisher also asked Cook about Elon Musk’s comments about a failed attempt to discuss selling Tesla to Apple around 2017. “You know, I’ve never spoken to Elon,” Cook said, “although I have great admiration and respect for the company he’s built.”