In an interview ahead of Apple’s upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference event, CEO Tim Cook talks about the potential of XR and why elements of it may be “even better than the real world.”
In an interview by GQ’s Zach Baron, Apple CEO Tim Cook explained that he first joined Apple—which at the time was nearly bankrupt—because Steve Jobs convinced him the company could really change the world.
And change the world it has, with products like the iPhone that have fundamentally altered the way much of the world goes about its daily business.
The next shot the company is rumored to take has a chance to do more than change the world—it could change everyday reality itself.
While Apple remains secretive about its plans for an XR device—which is rumored to be revealed at WWDC in June—Cook said in the interview that in some ways the technology could be “even better than the real world.”
“If you think about the technology itself with augmented reality, just to take one side of the AR/VR piece, the idea that you could overlay the physical world with things from the digital world could greatly enhance people’s communication, people’s connection,” Cook told GQ. “It could empower people to achieve things they couldn’t achieve before.”
“We might be able to collaborate on something much easier if we were sitting here brainstorming about it and all of a sudden we could pull up something digitally and both see it and begin to collaborate on it and create with it. And so it’s the idea that there is this environment that may be even better than just the real world—to overlay the virtual world on top of it might be an even better world,” said Cook. “And so this is exciting. If it could accelerate creativity, if it could just help you do things that you do all day long and you didn’t really think about doing them in a different way.”
When prompted about the company’s criticism of Google Glass around the time the device was introduced back in 2013—saying that head-worn devices would feel to invasive—Cook suggests he may have changed his mind on that point.
“My thinking always evolves. Steve [Jobs] taught me well: never to get married to your convictions of yesterday. To always, if presented with something new that says you were wrong, admit it and go forward instead of continuing to hunker down and say why you’re right.”
Just as Apple was skeptical of Google Glass, Cook knows Apple will always be in a similar boat when launching new products.
“Pretty much everything we’ve ever done, there were loads of skeptics with it,” Cook said. “If you do something that’s on the edge, it will always have skeptics.” When entering new markets, Cook said he considers a handful of questions: “Can we make a significant contribution, in some kind of way, something that other people are not doing? Can we own the primary technology? I’m not interested in putting together pieces of somebody else’s stuff. Because we want to control the primary technology. Because we know that’s how you innovate.”
Apple’s WWDC isn’t until June, but the rumor mill is already ramping up. One day Apple is said to be launching its rumored XR product at the event. The next day it’s delayed. And the day after it’s still coming at WWDC. Only one thing is certain at this point: we’ll have to wait until June to find out for sure.
For more about Tim Cook, check out the full interview from GQ.