Apple boss talks augmented reality in high-profile interview

Besides maintaining Apple’s position as one of the world’s leading tech firms, the company’s CEO, Tim Cook, is also highly accomplished at never giving anything away.

This essential skill — an absolute must-have for Apple executives — really comes into its own during media interviews, where Cook and his colleagues have to carefully formulate entire answers before the words leave their lips.

Take Cook’s recent chat with GQ. In a lengthy and wide-ranging interview with the magazine, Apple’s leading light manages to talk about augmented reality (AR) without letting on that the company is (almost certainly) on the verge of unveiling a mixed-reality headset.

His responses to GQ’s questions do, however, offer some insight into how the company is approaching the technology, and why Cook thinks it’s important.

On the subject of AR, which overlays digital features on a real-world view, Apple’s boss said: “The idea that you could overlay the physical world with things from the digital world could greatly enhance people’s communication, people’s connection.”

He explains that AR could “empower people to achieve things they couldn’t achieve before,” paving the way for easier collaboration by allowing contributors to “pull up something digitally and both see it and begin to collaborate on it and create with it.”

Cook even goes so far as to claim that an AR environment “may be even better than just the real world — to overlay the virtual world on top of it might be an even better world.”

GQ points out how, in a previous interview a number of years ago, Cook dismissed the idea of creating smart glasses similar to Google Glass, describing the effort of Apple’s rival as “not a smart move” as “people would not really want to wear them,” adding: “We always thought it would flop.”

Giving perhaps the closest thing to a confession that Apple has been working hard on building a mixed-reality headset, Cook said that former Apple boss Steve Jobs told him to be open to changing your mind “if presented with something new that says you were wrong.”

Cook, who became CEO in 2011, said that launching a new product always depends on whether his top team thinks it will bring something fresh to the table.

With the tech giant rumored to unveil its highly anticipated headset at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June, we’ll soon find out precisely what Cook things is so special about Apple’s all-new headset.

Recent reports have suggested the headset’s road to development has been a rocky one, with some former and current team members having doubts about its potential for success. One of the fears is that the rumored $3,000 price tag will make it a difficult purchase for most Apple customers, especially in these challenging economic times. But with Apple’s powerful marketing machine behind it, few will bet on it being a flop.

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