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Apple CEO cooks up AR with cryptic hints

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Doom and gloom may surround the smartphone market, but something as small as market trends isn’t going to stop Apple as it turns its attention towards augmented reality.

CEO Tim Cook has been at it again, and he’s been at it in the typical cryptic fashion that we’ve become used to. Speaking to The Independent, Cook has been talking up the potential surround augmented reality, at times comparing it to the impact the iPhone had on the world. Cook is too wizened to come straight out with any plans and ambitions of the team, but not-so-subtle hints like this have been dropped before; it’s usually a sign of a product launch in the not too distant future.

The signs have been there in recent months, but Apple does seem to be looking to augmented and virtual reality to recoup momentum lost in the global smartphone industry. Apple is still collecting the lion’s share of global profits, however the numbers are starting to turn against them. Growth is slowing, and the cash-conscious consumer is looking for cheaper models. Augmented reality would appear to be the avenue Apple is turning down to create the next technological revolution.

“I regard it as a big idea like the smartphone,” Cook said in the interview. “The smartphone is for everyone, we don’t have to think the iPhone is 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 these things that could improve a lot of lives.”

Augmented reality differs in its application to virtual reality, as it interacts with the rest of world rather than creating an alternative one. There may be excitement about the applications available when developing virtual reality, but realistically augmented reality has a much wider berth due to the fact it can be used 24/7, while users continue their normal days simultaneously. The day-to-day applications are much more wide ranging than in virtual reality.

“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,” said Cook. “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.”

Apple has dominated the smartphone industry over the last decade, and has a brand loyalty which can only be rivalled by the likes of Facebook. Augmented and virtual reality have faced the road blocks of price and consumer acceptance to date, that said if there was one brand which could smooth the surface for the rest of the industry, it might well be Apple. iLifers are incredibly loyal and seemingly don’t mind dipping into the piggy bank.

The secretive Cook has done well to big up a segment without saying much, but his comments will get attention from the rest of the industry. A smart man might bet on Apple releasing some sort of augmented reality product in the near future.


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