The Future of Apple & AR

“Tim Cook is no Steve Jobs.”

“Apple has not released anything interesting since the iPhone.”

“The Age of Apple is over. RIP Apple.”

When they first surfaced, the preceding headlines came across as unfiltered clickbait.

And then, as if on queue, Apple fell into a minor tailspin: A string of underwhelming releases crested with the release of the Apple Watch, followed by the resignations of several top executives. The bold, block-lettered proclamations appeared almost daily:

Apple has run dry. Innovation does not live there anymore.

Bullshit.

Despite the barbed headlines, innovation remains Apple’s chief calling card.

Personal computing is on the precipice of a huge shift towards augmented reality, and Apple’s recent series of acquisitions and patents shine a light on their intent to blaze the trail.

Notoriously secretive, Tim Cook’s recent statements further reveal Apple’s path:

“AR will happen in a big way, and when it does, we will wonder how we ever lived without it. Like we wonder how we lived without our phone today.”

Cook’s comments lay out Apple’s intent to build an augmented future, and the tech embedded within their present lineup of products doubles down on that path.

If AR glasses are going to be a success, they’ll need to tether with a powerful computer (the iPhone), and they’ll need to do so seamlessly while introducing new ways to interface with computers (Airpods + Siri).

Apple is slowly building an ecosystem of products that AR can integrate with to be powerful, immersive, minimal, and consequently, actually work.

Aside from being outrageously dorky, Google Glass lacked the power and wireless integration necessary for an organic, natural experience.

Fortunately a product like the Apple Watch has demonstrated that a great deal of power can fit into a tiny package, and it can tether seamlessly with a variety of devices. While there’s certainly room for Apple’s hardware to grow, a solid foundation has been laid.

This is where Apple’s second brilliant strategic move comes into play.

Over the years personal computers have migrated from desks to our laps, and presently rest in our pockets. As our technology continues to improve, it’s not only shrinking in size, it’s moving closer to our body.

Up to this point, wearable tech has been tough on the eyes (pagers, cell phone belt clips, Bluetooth earphones). Wearing a computer on our face is going to be a challenge.

Who better to face that challenge than Apple?

The aforementioned Apple Watch, however problematic, has taken a step in the right direction. It’s not only powerful, it interacts directly with our skin to monitor bodily functions, and does so unobtrusively.

The equally controversial AirPods are just as impressive: a pair of tiny voice activated computers that switch on the moment they slip inside our ears, they deliver crystal clear audio while maintaining a wireless connection with a smartphone.

What’s more, each pod sits gently inside an orifice with an understatement that borders on invisible. Imagine the computing power of HAL 9000 reduced to the size of a pearl.

Apple has a history of re-thinking nearly every major step in personal computing: the desktop, the mouse, the mp3 player, the laptop, the cell phone.

Next up, Augmented Reality.

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Hi, I’m Daniel. I’ve founded a few companies including Piccsy (acq. 2014) and EveryGuyed (acq. 2011). I am currently open to new career and consulting opportunities. Get in touch via email.

This article was co-authored by Shaun Roncken.

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