Tim Cook teased that Apple is working on an augmented reality or AR product in an interview with a state-run retail outlet china daily, and telling AR fans to “stay tuned and you’ll see what we have to offer.” It reads like a direct hint that the company is working on some kind of headset, which has been rumored for years – unless, of course, he thinks people will be really excited about using it. ARKit apps on their phones.
In the clip, brought to our attention by means of 9to5Mac, the interviewer asks Cook what he thinks are the most important factors for the success of an AR product. Cook responds by saying he “couldn’t be more excited” about AR, despite it being “in the very early innings” of its evolution.
Cook has talked about AR dozens of times during his tenure as Apple’s CEO, going so far as to say he’s the technology’s “number one” fan. He also agreed that AR is a “critically important part of Apple’s future,” and when the company announced its AR API, Craig Federighi said said the technology was a “profound” change† But while those comments made it clear that Apple is working in space, they weren’t promises that Apple would ship an AR device.
It’s been rumored for years that Apple is working on an AR headset or even a combination of augmented/virtual reality headsets, and from everything we’ve collected during that time, it’s been through a turbulent design process. The device is currently thought to be a standalone device, with the computer powering the headset. Analysis Ming-Chi Kuo has said the headset chip will be as powerful as Macs.
Recent reports make it look like the headset is almost ready. Work on the operating system, called Reality OS, is according to Bloombergand the board of directors was allowed to test the hardware last month.
Despite this, Cook’s comment isn’t necessarily proof that Apple’s headset is just around the corner. In March, Apple explicitly said there came an Apple Silicon Mac Pro announcement. A lot of people, myself included, were sure that meant we’d see it at WWDC in June. But the keynote came and went without Apple showing its flagship machine. What I’m saying is that while Apple seems a little open about what products it has in the hopper, it certainly still leaves us guessing.