Highly anticipated: Apple has been rumored to work on augmented reality and autonomous electric car projects for a while, but the company is notorious for being tight-lipped about any development that happens inside its labs. In an interview with the New York Times, Apple CEO Tim Cook offered a few hints about what to expect from those projects if they ever see the light of day.
When it comes to AR, the best guess from industry insiders like renowned analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is that Apple will start with a HoloLens-style device and slowly build a family of mixed reality devices in different form factors.
That certainly seems like the right approach if you look at Microsoft's recent contract win with the U.S. Army, but that means this new device could also end up being more of a prosumer, niche-type product that lends itself to industrial and military environments.
Tim Cook says augmented reality has great potential, and some of that may be in enhancing conversations by allowing participants to overlay information. He also believes there are numerous ways it can be integrated in education, gaming, and retail, and that AR has already taken off on phones. But more than anything, he is excited to see where that leads and admits that it's an essential component of Apple's future.
Apple has also been rumored to work on cars, with some reports even going as far as to pinpoint a debut for later this year. The company has been poaching talent from car makers, and Hyundai at some point confirmed negotiations with the Cupertino giant to develop an electric car. However it's not yet clear if Apple wants to build a car entirely in-house, or just supply the self-driving software, and Cook was hesitant to clarify this out during the interview.
However, he admits that Apple is experimenting with autonomy and refers to it as a "core technology." He also notes that "we love to integrate hardware, software, and services, and find the intersection points of those because we think that’s where the magic occurs. And so that’s what we love to do. And we love to own the primary technology that’s around that."
We also know that during Tesla's struggles with the Model 3, Elon Musk tried (unsuccessfully) to meet up with Cook to discuss selling Tesla for one-tenth of the company's value at the time.
When Swisher asked Cook about it, he only noted that he's never personally spoken to Musk, "although I have great admiration and respect for the company he's built." Ultimately, the Apple Car project may never see the light of day, but Cook was careful not to dismiss the possibility entirely.