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Augmented Reality: Fresh hints from Tim Cook

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The Apple boss said at a university appearance that people would “soon” wonder how they would have lived without augmented reality before.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook has been known for years to make enthusiastic comments about augmented reality (AR). However, Apple still does not have a suitable product for this – apart from the makeshift iPhone or iPad. Now Cook has commented on the subject again and made what are probably the clearest hints so far.

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At an event at the Università Degli Studi di Napoli Federico II in Naples, where Cook was awarded an honorary doctorate in Innovation and International Management, he also spoke to students in a subsequent Q&A session, for which questions were allowed to be submitted in advance. Among other things, he was asked which future technologies excite him. First he spoke of artificial intelligence (AI), a “fundamental, horizontal technology that will touch everyone in our lives”. It starts with the Apple Watch.

Then he moved on to the subject of augmented reality. He was “super excited” about the topic. “We had a great conversation here today, but if we could add something from the virtual world to that, it would probably have been even better.” That will be “clearly not far in the future from today”. “If we then look back at this point […] you’ll ask yourselves how we lived our lives without augmented reality.” That’s a bit like asking yourself today what it was like growing up without the internet. Cook repeated his argument that AR was “profound ” (profound). Ironically, the live stream then broke off briefly; the version that can now be found on YouTube has a cut at this point.

As mentioned, Cook has been peddling AR for a long time. But Apple’s products in this area are still not on the market. Most recently, there were reports in the summer that Apple’s first headset – probably intended primarily for professionals and developers – had already been shown to the group’s board of directors. This is usually a step done just prior to release. There are also trademarks such as “Reality Pro” and “Reality One” that Apple has registered.

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But neither at the WWDC 2022 developer conference in June nor at the keynote for iPhone 14 & Co. was there any mention of a headset. The rumor mill is currently assuming that Apple will show its headset in 2023. If things go much like the last major new product category, the Apple Watch, expect an event in the spring and a release later in the year. The first headset should cost several thousand euros; only later versions should really be suitable for consumers.

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