AWT News Update: February 10, 2017

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly wears a pair of Microsoft HoloLens augmented reality glasses aboard the International Space Station during his year in space. Image via NASA

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly wears a pair of Microsoft HoloLens augmented reality glasses aboard the International Space Station during his year in space. Image via NASA

It's another Slow News Friday™, so we're looking at Tim Cook's recent comments in a newspaper interview about the topic of augmented reality (AR). Cook has brought up AR on numerous occasions in the past year, not only during interviews but on earnings calls as well. His interview this week with The Independent shows how passionate he is about what could be "as big as the smartphone" for Apple. 

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Text Version

This is Steve Sande for Apple World Today, and you’re listening to the AWT News Update for February 10, 2017. Since it’s Slow News Friday™ again, I’m going to just do one story about Apple and Tim Cook’s interest in augmented reality.

Before the Apple Watch was released, Tim Cook made comments about the wrist being an “interesting space” when talking about wearable computers. Prior to the release of the 4th-generation Apple TV and tvOS, he made numerous comments about how antiquated television discovery and viewing was.

So we know that Cook has a tendency to drop big hints for at least a year or so before he’s going to make a big announcement. Over the past year, Cook has made comments about the augmented reality or AR market being potentially bigger than virtual reality, and the recent problems at both Oculus and Leap Motion seem to indicate that the “year of Virtual Reality” may never happen.

During his week-long European trip that just ended, Cook kept bringing up AR, and in an interview with The Independent newspaper, he even said that he thinks of AR “as a big idea like the smartphone.” There have been reports that Apple may add augmented reality features into the iPhone’s camera system in the future, and there have been repeated rumors that Apple is working on a pair of AR glasses. Even the long rumored Apple car project has been associated with AR technology, and the company has hired executives from AR companies and even purchased some of those firms.

Cook’s comment during an interview with The Independent newspaper really focuses on what he sees AR as being to Apple and to its customers. He said “I regard it as a big idea like the smartphone. The smartphone is for everyone, we don’t have to think the iPhone is about a certain demographic, or country or vertical market: it’s for everyone. I think AR is that big, it’s huge. I get excited because of the things that could be done that could improve a lot of lives. And be entertaining. I view AR like I view the silicon here in my iPhone, it’s not a product per se, it’s a core technology. But there are things to discover before that technology is good enough for the mainstream. I do think there can be a lot of things that really help people out in daily life, real-life things, that’s why I get so excited about it.”

Cook went on to say that “I’m excited about Augmented Reality because unlike Virtual Reality which closes the world out, AR allows individuals to be present in the world but hopefully allows an improvement on what’s happening presently. Most people don’t want to lock themselves out from the world for a long period of time and today you can’t do that because you get sick from it. With AR you can, not be engrossed in something, but have it be a part of your world, of your conversation. That has resonance.”

So if there’s one technology announcement that Apple fans should begin to look forward to, it’s augmented reality. We’re hearing all of the hints from the CEO, now all we need is hardware, apps, and services that make the most of adding a layer of information to our everyday lives.

That’s all for today; I’ll be Monday tomorrow afternoon with another edition of the AWT News Update.