Apple’s augmented technology platform ARKit is going to be as big as the App Store and multitouch, but the technology’s not yet there to make a standalone AR headset.
Those are the biggest takeaways from a wide-ranging interview Apple CEO Tim Cook gave to the U.K.’s Independent newspaper as part of his trip to Europe this week. The interview also covered his love of the military, and why Apple shouldn’t stay silent on issues it disagrees with.
In terms of ARKit’s impact, Cook likened it to two big Apple revolutions of the last decade: the arrival of the App Store in 2008, and the advent of multitouch, which helped make the iPhone and iPad possible.
“Think back to 2008, when the App Store went live,” Cook said. “There was the initial round of apps and people looked at them and said, ‘This is not anything, mobile apps are not going to take off.’ And then step by step things start to move. And it is sort of a curve, it was just exponential – and now you couldn’t imagine your life without apps. Your health is on one app, your financials, your shopping, your news, your entertainment – it’s everything. AR is like that. It will be that dramatic.”
In terms of multitouch, Cook reiterated that, “People initially didn’t think multitouch was very profound. But you think about how we all interface with software today, and we do it by touch. The point-and-click and buttons that we all used for so long are fading. And you couldn’t imagine now interfacing in that kind of way. So I think it’s like that – it’s that big.”
An Apple VR headset
The interviewer then asked Cook about the rumors of a standalone AR headset, which Apple reportedly has hundreds of engineers working on.
While Cook rattled off his usual spiel about not talking about rumors and future products, he noted that, “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.”
At Normandy, honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice. “Think not only upon their passing. Remember the glory of their spirit.” pic.twitter.com/Unq6NXoe5y
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) October 9, 2017
He then singled out the “field of view, the quality of the display itself” as something that is “not there yet.” Apple will only ship a product, he says, if it can do it in “a quality way.”
In terms of Apple’s strategy for releasing such a headset, Cook said, “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.”
The military, speaking out about politics
Cook was additionally asked about his recent visit to the military cemetery in Normandy, France, which pays tribute to soldiers lost in World War II.
“From a personal point of view, I have a deep connection with men and women that served in the military,” Cook said. “I came from a military family. My father fought in the Korean war, my brother served in the Air Force. Many people in the extended family – there’s a deep belief in serving country.”
Finally, Cook touched on Apple’s speaking out about political issues, specifically when it comes to human rights.
“Today at Apple we still fight for this, and advocate for human rights, and we believe that every generation has a responsibility to enlarge the definition, not move inward,” he said. “And so you can see, we’ve been very clear and straight, we don’t believe in being silent, we think silence is sort of the ultimate consent.”