Tim Cook: Augmented reality is critical to Apple's future

Analysts expect an Apple AR headset is coming next year, and Apple's CEO wants to explain why AR is such a big deal.

With rumors swirling that Apple will release an augmented reality (AR) headset in the future, Apple chief Tim Cook has given some new comments about how important the technology is to Apple's future products. 

Of course, Cook didn't offer any clues about future Apple AR products, but he offered a peek at how the technology could benefit conversations with colleagues.  

"Well, I can't talk about anything that may or may not be in the pipeline. But in terms of AR, the promise of AR is that you and I are having a great conversation right now," Cook told Kara Swisher on her Sway podcast

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"Arguably, it could even be better if we were able to augment our discussion with charts or other things to appear. And your audience would also benefit from this, too, I think. 

"And so when I think about that in different fields, whether it's health, whether it's education, whether it's gaming, whether it's retail, I'm already seeing AR take off in some of these areas with use of the phone. And I think the promise is even greater in the future."

He agreed that AR was critically important to Apple's future.  

Cook has previously said he believed AR and machine learning "will be key to delivering the right information to the right person at the right time."

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes Apple will release a mixed reality headset "in mid-2022" and follow it with AR glasses by 2025.

Cook also shared his ideas on social networks and privacy matters, saying the world today was in a "crisis". 

"The individual should own their data. And they should own the ability to say who gets it and what of their data they get and what they use it for. And frankly, that's not the situation of today."

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With iOS 14 due out in a few weeks, Apple is rolling out App Tracking Transparency (ATT) and privacy nutrition labels – two features Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg fears could harm its earnings results while benefiting iMessage. Facebook has also argued it will hurt small businesses. 

The iOS 14 privacy feature will require apps to get users' permission before tracking their data across other companies' apps or websites for advertising purposes. 

"App Tracking Transparency, and what it tries to get at, is companies that are taking advantage of tracking you across apps of other companies, and therefore putting together an entire profile of what you're thinking, what you're doing, surveilling you across the web 24/7," said Cook.