Apple CEO Tim Cook believes the technology to build augmented reality glasses in a quality way does not exist. "The field of view, the quality of the display itself, it’s not there yet," he told The Independent in an interview. Cook also iterated that his company will ship something only when it can do it in a quality way.
The rumours around Apple working on an AR headset gained momentum after patents revealed that the company is looking into such a wearable device. As always, Cook dismissed the rumours saying Apple does not comment on what it is working on. He further added that Apple is not about being first, but being the best and give people a great experience.
Microsoft and Google have already strengthened their position in the augmented reality space. Microsoft has a standalone AR headset for enterprise users called the HoloLens, while Google has given rebirth to the Google Glass and has investmented in Magic Leap, a startup working on Augmented Reality wearable devices. Apple, on the other hand, was widely seen as a laggard in the space.
However, Apple's place in the AR world has changed since the launch of ARKit at WWDC in June. With ARKit, Apple has turned over a billion devices into AR ready devices overnight. Cook says ARKit is a world-changing idea on the scale similar to that of original iPhone. Earlier, Cook had said Augmented Reality can be as big as the smartphone itself.
While virtual reality puts the user in a virtual world, augmented reality overlaps virtual objects on top of the real world. With AR, the users stay aware of what's happening around them even after putting a device in front of their face. Cook believes ARKit is like a seed that will expand into a tree as soon as developers start exploiting the potential of this platform.
Seeing the benefits of ARKit, Google has already announced its own version called ARCore that brings learnings from Project Tango to every Android smartphone. Apple believes AR is at a phase where it can only be crammed into iOS devices but it also sees developments in the world of sensor technology and computational power to process all that information. Will Apple announce a standalone AR headset? It seems likely but Cook refrains from answering with a Yes.