Apple CEO Tim Cook thinks augmented reality is going to be something big, a fairly simple claim to make thanks to the company’s recent inclusion of its AR tech into every Apple device capable of updating to iOS 11. But when we talk about AR, the natural terminus isn’t the smartphone’s screen, but rather a perfectly immersive pair of AR glasses that have yet to come. Speaking to The Independent, Cook says the technology to create an AR headset in a “quality way” just isn’t possible yet, but when it is, Apple will be the best.
“The products themselves have to have a lot of processing power, and a fair amount of different sensor technology in order to do this locational stuff,” Cook tells The Independent. “So having it on iPhone changes the game for developers, because instantly they had hundreds of millions of potential customers. If it were on a different device then you would never have a commercial opportunity, and without the commercial opportunity you’d never have 15 million people that say, ‘I want to design my passion with AR’.”
As a ready-made launchpad for AR interactions with a built-in audience, the iPhone and iPad are great, but what about AR headsets? Cook is doubtful in the short-term, saying the technology itself “doesn’t exist to do that in a quality way.”
Despite some telling patents made by the company, Cook says consumers shouldn’t really expect an Apple AR headset in the short-term in spite of the growing number of AR headsets already coming to market.
“The display technology required, as well as putting enough stuff around your face – there’s huge challenges with that. The field of view, the quality of the display itself, it’s not there yet,” he says. “We don’t give a rat’s about being first, we want to be the best, and give people a great experience. But now anything you would see on the market any time soon would not be something any of us would be satisfied with. Nor do I think the vast majority of people would be satisfied.”
“Most technology challenges can be solved, but it’s a matter of how long,” he says.