8 times Tim Cook said how AR is the next big thing

If you’ve been following Apple for a while, you’ve probably heard Tim Cook remark about augmented reality’s game-changing potential. While he initially declared he couldn’t see the appeal of Google Glass, the ill-fated augmented reality wearable, he’s been a constant supporter of AR since at least 2016.

Tim Cook has been Apple’s CEO for ten years, and while he’s helped the business become the most valuable in the world, it’s fair to say he hasn’t yet introduced a game-changing device like Apple co-founder Steve Jobs did with the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and other products.

If you’ve been following Apple for a while, you’ve probably heard Cook remark about augmented reality’s game-changing potential. While he initially declared he couldn’t see the appeal of Google Glass, the ill-fated augmented reality wearable, he’s been a constant supporter of AR since at least 2016.

Cook has often stated his support for what he considers to be the far superior AR technology, while the rest of the industry has put all of its eggs in the VR basket. This would become a recurring theme: AR is great, but VR isn’t so great.

As long as Apple delivers on a winning idea, it appears that AR will become a signature of Cook’s term. While this isn’t a certainty — Apple has yet to show off an AR headset or glasses — Cook’s regular comments about the technology keep the topic in the spotlight and reassure investors and customers that Apple is working on it.

The iPhone and iPad already have AR capabilities. While hopes of an Apple mixed reality gadget in 2022 are fading, the latest speculations say the company is still working on an AR/VR headset that will be introduced in the not-too-distant future.

Here’s a rundown of all the times Tim Cook has declared he believes augmented reality is the way of the future:

1. July 2016
“AR can be really great,” Cook says in a quarterly earnings call in July 2016. “We’ve put a lot of money into it and will continue to do so. We are bullish on AR in the long run because we believe it has a lot of potential for customers and a lot of business potential. The most important thing is to make sure our goods operate well with other developers’ products, such as Pokémon, which is why you see so many iPhones pursuing a pokemon in the wild.” (It’s pronounced “pokey-man” by Cook.)

2. September 2016
In an interview, Cook states that he believes AR is a bigger problem than VR. “There’s virtual reality, and then there’s augmented reality, both of which are fascinating. However, in my opinion, augmented reality is by far the larger of the two.”

“AR allows both of us to sit and be extremely present, chatting to each other while also having other things — visually — for both of us to see,” says the author. Maybe it’s something we’re discussing, or maybe it’s someone else here who isn’t physically here but can be made to appear so.”

“There are a lot of pretty fascinating things there,” says the narrator.

3. August 2016
In a Washington Post profile, Cook mentions augmented reality briefly: “I believe AR [augmented reality] is incredibly exciting and sort of a key technology.” So, absolutely, it’s something we’re working on a lot behind that veil that we discussed.”

4. October 2016
Cook discusses how important AR might become and why he thinks it’s better than VR at an appearance at Utah Tech Tour while emphasising that AR faces enormous technological obstacles before it can be adopted for widespread consumption.


5. October 2016 (again)
While “VR has some interesting applications,” Cook tells BuzzFeed News believes AR is preferable to VR because “there is no substitute for human contact.” As a result, you want technology to support that.” Cook adds a new contrast to his ideas on AR’s potential in February 2017: AR, like the smartphone, is a big concept.

6. June 2017
In June 2017, Cook explains his ambition for augmented reality at Apple in a wide-ranging interview with Bloomberg News: “It strikes me as profound. I want to scream and yell because I’m so happy about it. To make it a mainstream experience, the first step is to include it in the operating system. We’re integrating it into iOS 11 and making it available to developers.”

7. October 2017
In an interview with Vogue UK in October 2017, Cook stated that while Apple was not trying to create a “huge database of garments,” it would encourage companies working in the AR field.

According to Cook, AR has a wide range of applications: “I’m ecstatic about augmented reality because I see applications for it everywhere. It has applications in education, consumers, entertainment, and sports, to name a few. I see it in every business that I am familiar with.”

8. April 2021
Cook agreed with journalist Kara Swisher that augmented reality is “a crucially important aspect of Apple’s future” during an interview. AR might be used in health, education, retail, and gaming, according to him. “With the use of the phone, I’m already seeing AR take off in some of these sectors. And I believe the future holds even more promise.”

What might be cooking in Apple’s bucket for 2021?
Tim Cook has clearly been a long-time believer in augmented reality. But, so far, Apple’s biggest push into AR has been the 2017 release of ARKit for iOS 11, which uses the cameras and sensors on iPhones and iPads to overlay images in 3D space when the device is pointed at a certain region. Because ARKit is available on all of Apple’s devices, amateur AR fans have been able to create a slew of neat little projects.

It’s not surprising that Apple has taken its time developing AR hardware; after all, it’s the same company that introduced the AirPower wireless charging pad, showed it off to the world, and then cancelled it because it didn’t meet company standards — and that was just a charging accessory, not a potential new computing paradigm.

As a result, it’s understandable that Apple would take its time developing an AR or VR headset. Cook undoubtedly doesn’t want Apple to replicate the mistake of Google Glass by releasing iGlasses too soon, and certainly not before the technology satisfies Apple’s high bar.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store


India's Largest Tech Community | 4.2 Million+ Developers | Guinness World Record Winner | Limca Book of Records