Apple CEO Tim Cook talks self-driving cars and retirement

April 5, 2021, 8:31 PM UTC

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Apple CEO Tim Cook said that augmented reality and artificial intelligence are key to the iPhone maker’s future.

Cook discussed the cutting-edge technologies as well as his next career move in a podcast interview with the New York Times on Monday. Although he declined to discuss Apple’s specific product initiatives, such as AR glasses that can superimpose digital images onto the physical world or an autonomous vehicle, he revealed his thoughts on these topics.

Apple is expected to debut AR glasses within the next year, but it is still far from introducing a fully autonomous electric vehicle, according to media reports

Here are some key takeaways from Cook’s interview.

Apple is excited about augmented reality

Cook explained how AR could be helpful, such as making virtual conversations more effective. To illustrate his point, he said AR could have been used to augment his Times interview by making it possible for him to show charts or other images during the discussion. 

Cook then turned to how he thinks AR could be useful in the business world, citing the health care, education, gaming, and retail industries in particular. “I’m already seeing AR take off in some of these areas with use of the phone,” Cook said. “And I think the promise is even greater in the future.”

Apple’s self-driving future

As for self-driving cars, Cook said that Apple is interested in “autonomy itself” as a core technology, referring to the software and hardware that enables robots, cars, and drones to move by themselves without human operators. He said that self-driving cars are essentially robots, which is noteworthy because it implies that the same underlying autonomous technology could be useful for several products, not only cars.

Cook declined to comment about whether Apple would produce a self-driving car; the company is testing them in California. But he did add, “We love to integrate hardware, software, and services and find the intersection points of those, because we think that’s where the magic occurs.” 

When will Cook retire?

Cook, 60, doesn’t plan on leading Apple forever, of course, noting that he’s unlikely to be CEO in 10 years. “But I can tell you that I feel great right now,” he said. “And the date’s not in sight. But 10 more years is a long time and probably not 10 more years.

“And so I don’t think I will know that until after I’m not here,” Cook said. “Because I think I’ll run so fast that I’ll never really think about it until I’m not running anymore.”

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