In an interview ahead of Apple’s upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference event, CEO Tim Cook talks about the potential of XR and why elements of it may be “even better than the real world.”

In an interview by GQ’s Zach Baron, Apple CEO Tim Cook explained that he first joined Apple—which at the time was nearly bankrupt—because Steve Jobs convinced him the company could really change the world.

And change the world it has, with products like the iPhone that have fundamentally altered the way much of the world goes about its daily business.

The next shot the company is rumored to take has a chance to do more than change the world—it could change everyday reality itself.

While Apple remains secretive about its plans for an XR device—which is rumored to be revealed at WWDC in June—Cook said in the interview that in some ways the technology could be “even better than the real world.”

“If you think about the technology itself with augmented reality, just to take one side of the AR/VR piece, the idea that you could overlay the physical world with things from the digital world could greatly enhance people’s communication, people’s connection,” Cook told GQ. “It could empower people to achieve things they couldn’t achieve before.”

“We might be able to collaborate on something much easier if we were sitting here brainstorming about it and all of a sudden we could pull up something digitally and both see it and begin to collaborate on it and create with it. And so it’s the idea that there is this environment that may be even better than just the real world—to overlay the virtual world on top of it might be an even better world,” said Cook. “And so this is exciting. If it could accelerate creativity, if it could just help you do things that you do all day long and you didn’t really think about doing them in a different way.”

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When prompted about the company’s criticism of Google Glass around the time the device was introduced back in 2013—saying that head-worn devices would feel to invasive—Cook suggests he may have changed his mind on that point.

“My thinking always evolves. Steve [Jobs] taught me well: never to get married to your convictions of yesterday. To always, if presented with something new that says you were wrong, admit it and go forward instead of continuing to hunker down and say why you’re right.”

Just as Apple was skeptical of Google Glass, Cook knows Apple will always be in a similar boat when launching new products.

“Pretty much everything we’ve ever done, there were loads of skeptics with it,” Cook said. “If you do something that’s on the edge, it will always have skeptics.” When entering new markets, Cook said he considers a handful of questions: “Can we make a significant contribution, in some kind of way, something that other people are not doing? Can we own the primary technology? I’m not interested in putting together pieces of somebody else’s stuff. Because we want to control the primary technology. Because we know that’s how you innovate.”

Apple’s WWDC isn’t until June, but the rumor mill is already ramping up. One day Apple is said to be launching its rumored XR product at the event. The next day it’s delayed. And the day after it’s still coming at WWDC. Only one thing is certain at this point: we’ll have to wait until June to find out for sure.

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For more about Tim Cook, check out the full interview from GQ.

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  • another juan

    it seems like the marketing machine is already working, which pretty much confirms there will be a product available very soon.

    • alxslr

      Yeah that’s what we’d all want, but in fact, it doesn’t confirm anything. He’s talked about that “thing” many times for the last x years. And he’s dangerously beginnig to sound like ex Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz

      • guest

        Another stupid billionare that thinks this tech can be used to “collaborate”. They should launder their money in some business they understand!

    • toastytoaster

      By your own logic the marketing machine has been working since 2018, because Tim Cook has been praising AR at least since then. So by your own logic it has been confirmed since 2018 that there’s a product release very soon.

  • CyberVR

    Apple’s inclusion to VR/AR can and will really help the industry overall. Many Apple fans will buy the device for the hype, and if it is really good than finally we can see others to really start to compete and offer AAA titles, better production and communication tools, AI apps integrated into VR etc.. Important!

  • Till Eulenspiegel

    My prediction is – Apple VR headset will be as successful as their HomePod. It won’t be as mainstream as the iPhone or iPad, it will exists as just another sideline product from Apple. The AR glasses will have more chance to be a hit, but it is still too far away in the future to tell.

  • Darshan

    “We might be able to collaborate on something much easier if we were sitting here brainstorming about it and all of a sudden we could pull up something digitally and both see it and begin to collaborate on it and create with it. And so it’s the idea that there is this environment that may be even better than just the real world—to overlay the virtual world on top of it might be an even better world,” said Cook. “And so this is exciting. If it could accelerate creativity, if it could just help you do things that you do all day long and you didn’t really think about doing them in a different way.”

    This is description fits more with all day omnipresent device like mobile phone or laptop. Hopefully someday AR be as comman as mobile phones I hope such day come soon. VR may be

    • alxslr

      Yes, that’s what I thought when I read it, he’s just describing any personal computer, laptop, tablet or device. You don’t need something annoying attached to each person’s head for that. It’s laughable (and sad at the same time).

      • Guest

        Then why did we need a laptop, tablet or devices after personal computer? Headsets can let us do things that these devices can’t, even if Meta hasn’t properly managed to make those capabilities.

        • alxslr

          Of course they can. What is laughable is the weakness of the statement (“if we were sitting here brainstorming about it and all of a sudden we could pull up something digitally and both see it and begin to collaborate on it and create with it”) because in the way it is said it makes not remarkable difference from current technology. We all know headsets can do things, but they way he puts it does not diferentiate, and in any way justifies mass adoption. Like Zuckerberg, he looks like a kid with a cool toy in search of some practical use for it, and that does not look good for the sector as a whole.

          • Bob

            ” You don’t need something annoying…”

            Why are you on this website when clearly your opinion of XR is anything but positive?

            Go to a smartphone or a laptop website or even TikTok where you belong with your kin.

          • sfmike

            Haters aren’t happy until their opinion can be proven right regardless of how it effects the likes of others. It’s a sickness.

          • alxslr

            Are you reading yourself? Who is hating who here? Get a mirror, please. I’m just questioning parts of the approach of someone (Tim Cook) who by the way obviously does not like VR. AR has a future, but it still has to add enough value proposition to compensate friction. And for the moment those use cases menctioned are too “meh” for a bulky device. Of course I can be wrong. You too, but I would not say you are “sick” because of your opinion, because that would not be kind. It would be a tipical hater reaction.

          • Yxes

            Some of us are ‘skeptical’ about AR being all that great, whilst believing that VR has near infinite potential. From this point of view AR is just a version of VR that is limited by the constraints of physical reality (want to have a meeting with 40 people? You can’t because they won’t fit in your small office). If you’re already in a physical room together the benefits of AR glasses to look at your work compared to laptops/monitors is relatively small and with distinct disadvantages as well. In contrast, once we get (near) photorealistic social VR (the ability to look at someone who is somewhere else and it looks exactly as if they were in the same room together) the benefits become a lot clearer. From the point of view of those critical of the AR ‘craze’ these comments thus become just another contrived attempt to ‘justify’ AR.

          • alxslr

            Maybe you think only people who think like you have the right to speak here. Also, you are extrapolating my opinion about Tim C. statements/vision to my opinion about XR in general.

            If I didn’t like XR I wouldn’t have bought 7 diferent headsets from DK2. But I also think it still is “something annoying attached to your face”, so until we arrive to prescription glasses form factos -If we ever do- It always still compete with less friction technologies. To compensate that friction you have to provide a very high added value.

  • XRC

    Hulu’s “the first” (cancelled Mars TV show with Sean Penn and Natasha McElhone) brilliantly showcased a possible future of XR.

    Some great scenes involving everyday AR/VR glasses including synchronisation with other users in the area.

    One very effective, sentimental scene has an astronaut and parents of a deceased colleague share their son’s last moments using the technology.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      Oh thanx, never knew about that show and it seems like something I would like. Is it an open ending or is it a wrapped story?

      • XRC

        Unfortunately just a first season and then cancelled. Well worth watching the first season though!

        • Andrew Jakobs

          Shame, that’s the reason why I normally only watch series when they are fully finished (or I know it is a rounded story per season/epsiodes). But I’ll watch it anyway as I really like the premise, loved the series Mars (still hope there will be a cut version without the documentary parts as those were fine for the first watch, but don’t need it for a second watch, haha).

          • XRC

            The good shows often get cancelled, The First was just hitting it’s stride at end season 1. Think you’ll enjoy seeing their depiction of XR technology

  • toastytoaster

    He is also “hyping” it “ahead of” May, June, July, Christmas, 2024 and tomorrow. See how clickbait works?

  • eadVrim

    XR Headset needs photogrammetry scanning capabilities, for teleportation and new way of communication, so for example I could teleport to someone piece in VR and he could see my avatar moving in his piece in AR.

  • Muki EX

    If this is what it takes for Apple to add native stereoscopic movies to their digital store inventory, I’ll bloody take it.

    And given how much R&D they’ve dumped into computationally processing camera feeds, I’m honestly looking forward to what they can do with the number of cameras this thing will supposedly have on board.

  • sfmike

    I don’t think Cook realizes the number of AR/VR haters out there that are waiting to dump on anything you have to wear on your head.

  • Harald Heide Gundersen

    You got it if you combined chatGPT with Hololeans Magic Leap ot even Nreal Light (not Air unfortunately). Implementing interface against ChatGPT should be quite easy in something like Unity… (Ref. Dilmer Vallecillos)

    • toastytoaster

      ChatGPT is a dumb illusion of AI and tries to pass false info it gathered as correct, and when confronted about it admits the info claimed to be right just one prompt ago is wrong, but never directly admits it was wrong, because that’s bad PR, instead calls it a “confusion”.
      Most people talking about ChatGPT have never used it or have asked it to most mundane questions Google would provide an answer to anyway.
      ChatGPT is just a collection of algorithms that when fed huge library is able to output very convicning persuasive data, but it’s effectively a bullshitter, and the creators have hard coded many parts of it to be politically correct and also marketing-friendly (such as, as mentioned before, never admit it provided false answer as the truth).
      Most of the things ChatGPT does that people praise it for, such as generating code, is just ChatGPT going through the StackOverflow dataset and rephrasing the answers there, which any decent coder could find on StackOverflow directly anyway.

  • Harald Heide Gundersen

    What might be triggering me to consider getting is spatial awareness functionality…

  • Logan White

    I really can’t wait to have a high tech device on all our heads. . . the rate of brain cancer sky rocketing, and then them blaming the data on them just collecting more data.

  • Mike549

    In 2029 we will still be waiting with bated breath for the rumored Apple vr headset. “This time it’s finally here.”

    Yeah, right. Yawn.