Tim Cook Outlines Apple’s "Unbelievably Cool" AR Future

Apple has big plans for the future.

Getty Images / Andrew Burton

Tim Cook believes augmented reality is the future. In a new interview, the Apple CEO outlined his vision of a future where consumers use their iPhone cameras to display vital information. As technology improves, Cook believes augmented reality would take on more tasks, chiming with recent rumors that the company is working on a set of augmented reality glasses.

“I think it is profound,” Cook told Bloomberg in an interview published Thursday. “I am so excited about it, I just want to yell out and scream. The first step in making it a mainstream kind of experience is to put it in the operating system. We’re building it into iOS 11, opening it to ­developers—and unleashing the creativity of millions of people. Even we can’t predict what’s going to come out.”

The company’s upcoming software update for iPhones and iPads, iOS 11, unveiled last week, will bring a new augmented reality developer framework called ARKit. This will enable simple development of AR apps, providing a powerful platform that companies can use with ease. One of the best examples of augmented reality, Pokémon Go, is set to receive an update that will switch the app’s AR framework over to ARKit.

ARKit in action


It’s not just games that will make use of this new development. In the interview, Cook revealed that Apple has spoken to Ikea about using its 3D images of furniture for a future augmented reality system. Customers could preview products inside their home, using their phone to see how a new chair would look in a certain corner.

“You’re going to see some consumer things that are unbelievably cool,” Cook said.

Cook has spoken before about how he thinks augmented reality is the future, but his previous comments have been a lot less dramatic. In September, he described augmented reality as “incredibly interesting,” and the following month he said the technology “can be huge.”

But recent rumors have suggested Apple is planning a pair of augmented reality glasses, similar to Google Glass, that could display basic information over a wearer’s field of vision. Cook did not describe any AR headsets as part of his future vision, but it’s clear that iOS 11 and ARKit are the stepping stones to something big.

“Can we do everything we want to do now? No,” said Cook. “The technology’s not complete yet. But that’s the beauty to a certain degree. This has a runway. And it’s an incredible runway. It’s time to put the seat belt on and go.”

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