Speaking to The Independent in a wide-ranging interview during his European tour this week, Cook said that “the technology itself doesn’t exist” to create augmented reality glasses that would work “in a quality way.”
“The display technology required, as well as putting enough stuff around your face—there’s huge challenges with that,” he said.
Augmented reality describes a technology that places virtual objects over the real world. For instance, users might see virtual blocks sitting on a shelf or virtual characters sitting in a tree. They can then interact with those objects or characters in their actual surroundings, and the virtual objects respond based on the real-world environment.
Augmented reality glasses present one way to view the content. The glasses are basically goggles with displays inside that connect to a content source, like a smartphone or a computer.
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Cook’s belief that the technology isn’t yet ready for augmented reality glasses could be viewed as an affront to Google and Microsoft, which both already make augmented reality glasses. Those companies’ glasses are designed for corporate use and have software that allow companies to overlay virtual objects on the things employees are working on.
Cook didn’t mention his competitors by name in the interview, but threw some jabs at them, saying Apple (AAPL) doesn’t need to be first, but it certainly wants to deliver a top-notch device.
“We don’t give a rat’s about being first, we want to be the best, and give people a great experience,” he said. “But now anything you would see on the market any time soon would not be something any of us would be satisfied with. Nor do I think the vast majority of people would be satisfied.”
Cook has been outspoken about the value of augmented reality and his company spent time at its iPhone press event last month discussing how augmented reality apps that would run on its iPhones and not require a headset work. Still, it’s the push into a headset that might be the culmination of Apple’s augmented reality strategy, and judging by Cook’s comments, that device won’t be coming to store shelves anytime soon.