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article imageApple confirms it's actively working with augmented reality

By James Walker     Aug 16, 2016 in Technology
Apple CEO Tim Cook has revealed that the company views augmented reality as "extremely interesting," confirming Apple is developing AR products. The company has long been rumoured to be working on AR, but this is the first time Cook has acknowledged it.
Apple is known for its reluctance to adopt new technologies until they are fully matured. This has left it visibly behind its rivals in emerging areas including augmented and virtual reality. These fields are widely expected to become the next frontiers of technology but so far Apple hasn't made any noticeable entrance into either.
Over the past few years, Facebook has made heavy investments in VR, buying Oculus to obtain its Rift headset. Google has created Android Daydream, an all-new VR platform built from the ground up for smartphones and Microsoft has unveiled the HoloLens, making holographic computing a reality. Through all these announcements, Apple has remained silent, leaving some to speculate it is struggling to catch up with its rivals.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Cook revealed Apple is taking the same approach to AR and VR as with previous emerging technologies. He said the company is working "behind the curtain" with augmented reality and "doing a lot of things."
"I think AR is extremely interesting and sort of a core technology," said Cook. "So, yes, it's something we're doing a lot of things on behind that curtain that we talked about."
Cook did not elaborate further on what Apple is building using the technology. It is likely to take a different approach to its industry rivals, however. Apple tends not to meekly follow the crowd, instead developing its own interpretations that it considers to better suit its users.
Apple's commitment to augmented reality further indicates the growing importance of the field, confirming that all the major consumer tech companies are working on their own AR or VR systems. Augmented and virtual reality are set to become much more commonplace over the next few years, helped by the mass availability of smartphone VR platforms, such as Google Daydream, and the introduction of holographic headsets, like Microsoft HoloLens.
Full-blown desktop VR headsets such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive usually deliver the best experiences but are prohibitively expensive for most consumers. Therefore, the rise of affordable smartphone headsets, such as Samsung's Gear VR, will carry much of the responsibility for making VR a mainstream technology. The vast majority of people already own a smartphone, a much simpler hardware requirement than the $1,000 gaming PC needed to use the Rift or Vive.
Apple's plans for AR and VR are currently unknown. Little has leaked out about the project to date. It could be building its own headset, perhaps targeting the millions of iPhone users, or working to make the App Store more friendly to developers already working in the field.
It seems as though there's still no time frame for getting its creations to consumers. Apple is once again employing its famous approach of progressing cautiously to ensure what it's building is really ready to launch.
During the interview, Cook also touched on another under-development Apple project, the widely-rumoured Apple Car. The company has never said anything about it officially. Reports on the vehicle are now so widespread it has almost given up trying to conceal its existence, however. "I can't answer a question about something we haven't announced," Cook said to the Washington Post, with a laugh.
The CEO concluded the interview by describing his role at Apple as "the best job in the world," albeit a "lonely" one that is filled with "blind spots." In a rare insight into his own life at Apple, Cook explained how he tries to surround himself with not just really bright people but also people who "will push on you" to bring out the best, something he views as vital to Apple's success.
The full interview is available on The Washington Post and covers topics ranging from the recent struggles of the iPhone to Apple's plans for long-term growth and its stance on important social issues.
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