Tim Cook touts the future of AR, says the technology isn’t there yet for AR glasses

During his current trip in Europe, Apple’s Tim Cook sat down with The Independent for a wide-ranging interview. The primary focus of the talk was on ARKit and how Apple has implemented it in iOS and where else it augmented reality could be useful…

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Cook explained that one of the biggest benefits of the iOS ecosystem is how Apple can do the “heavy lifting” by building a framework like ARKit, and then letting developers implement it throughout their apps.

“The way that you get lots of great ideas is for us to do the heavy lifting of the complexity of locational things and software, and put those in the operating system,” says Cook. “And then you have all the developers that are able to put their energy into their passion.”

The ecosystem further helps Apple when in competing with other smartphone manufacturers, Greg Joswiack says:

“Our competitors are trying to mimic what we’ve done,” says Greg Joswiack, Apple’s vice president for iOS, iPad and iPhone marketing. “But they just don’t have that scale we bring to it.”

Cook also noted that Apple has an advantage in that it controls both the hardware and the software o the iPhone, a level of control that competitors don’t have:

That gives Apple an especially strong position because its competitors “don’t control the hardware and software”, Cook says. “It goes to what Apple is about – the integration of those two things, with the App Store on the server side. I think it’s going to be hard for other folks.”

The conversation then shifted primarily to augmented reality in general. Cook likened AR’s affect to that of the App Store, saying that it will be just as “dramatic” as the App Store was for mobile technology. The Apple CEO also noted of how ARKit become “the largest AR platform” instantly because of the existing iPhone user base.

“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’.”

By putting it on iPhone, Apple was able to “instantly overnight become the largest AR platform”, Cook says.

Cook also vaguely addressed the rumors that Apple is building a pair of augmented reality glasses, saying that the technology to create such a product isn’t there yet, while noting that Apple doesn’t care about being first.

“But today I can tell you the technology itself doesn’t exist to do that in a quality way. 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. And as with all of its products, Apple will only ship something if it feels it can do it “in a quality way”.

“We don’t give a rat’s about being first, we want to be the best, and give people a great experience,” he says. “But now anything you would se 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.”

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