Apple CEO Tim Cook talked about Apple car rumors, augmented reality and the electric vehicle segment and his contact – or lack of – with Tesla’s Elon Musk, amid speculation by analysts that the Cupertino company is preparing a handful of ambitious releases in new categories over the next few years. While Cook is, as always, silent on the exact details and product plans, it is clear that Apple is not interested in a discreet role in RA or autonomous management.
There are two segments around which rumors have long circulated about possible Apple launches. On the one hand, it is believed that the company has been working on several generations of smart glasses and mixed reality headsets, covering everything from a lightweight VR / AR headset to “Apple glasses” similar to sunglasses for daily use.
On the mobility site, Apple’s Project Titan has been exploring automotive applications for the company’s technology for several years. He is believed to be preparing an internally developed dashboard operating system and an autonomous vehicle platform, along with new battery technology for EVs. Although the division’s exact ambitions have varied over time, the latest leaks have suggested that the goal is a complete Apple car.
Cook: AR is an extremely important part of Apple’s future
Apple is believed to be preparing to talk about smart glasses and mixed reality headsets at its WWDC 2021 developer event this summer, preparing programmers and application developers for new consumer hardware. Speaking with Kara Swisher for NYTimes, Cook declined to comment on specific augmented reality products that the company may have in the script. However, he reiterated his thoughts on the potential value of RA.
“But in terms of AR, the promise of AR is that you and I are having a great conversation right now. Arguably, it could be even better if we could increase our discussion with graphics or other things that came up, ”suggested Cook. “And your audience would benefit from that, too, I think. And so, when I think about it in different fields, be it health, education, games, retail, I am already seeing AR taking off in some of these areas with the use of the phone. And I think the promise is even greater in the future. “
Currently, Apple’s AR system – known as ARKit – depends on its smartphones and tablets. Applications can use the camera to show a real-world view on the screen, in which developers can add 3D graphics, animations and other information. The fascination of glasses or headphones, however, is that the iPhone or iPad does not need to be between the user and the world around them.
Asked whether RA is an “extremely important part of Apple’s future”, Cook confirms that “it is”.
Apple’s self-driving car plans are ambitious
On the topic of cars, however, Swisher starts arguing about Tesla and its outspoken CEO Elon Musk, who once said that – during the automaker’s most troubled years – he would happily have sold the company to Apple. According to Cook, however, the two executives have not yet spoken.
“You know, I never spoke to Elon, although I have great admiration and respect for the company he built,” said Cook. “I think Tesla did an incredible job not only establishing the leadership, but maintaining the leadership for a long period of time in the EV space. Therefore, I have a great appreciation for them. “
Specifically in vehicles, and in Apple’s potential role in them, Cook again would not be attracted to any particular product. However, he insisted that the focus would be on autonomous driving, not just another vehicle. This, the implication seems to be, would be Apple’s first technological route to the new segment.
“Autonomy itself is a central technology, in my opinion,” explained Cook. “If you kind of take a step back, the car, in many ways, is a robot. An autonomous car is a robot. And then there are many things that you can do independently. And we’ll see what Apple does. We investigate many things internally. Many of them never see the light of day. I’m not saying no. “
As to whether all of this will result in an Apple-branded car, it’s no surprise that Cook is shy again. “We love to integrate hardware, software and services and find their points of intersection because we think that’s where the magic occurs,” he says. “And this is what we love to do. And we love having the primary technology around it. “
This certainly sounds like the kind of thing that a company looking to build a complete vehicle could say, instead of one that claims to be a Tier 1 supplier. At the same time, it is important to note that these giant automotive suppliers have an amazing presence in modern vehicles. While individual car manufacturers may mark their adaptive cruise control and lane maintenance systems in different ways, the central hardware and software stack are often provided by these suppliers.
Cook declined to answer whether the “integration” he has in mind is a car or the technology inside a car.