Apple CEO Tim Cook has nothing but praise for augmented reality, saying it's a technology that's potentially as important as the iPhone. It turns out he may have big plans for virtual reality too. The company is working on a headset capable of running both AR and VR technology, according to a person familiar with Apple's plans. Plans so far call for an 8K display for each eye -- higher resolution than today's best TVs -- that would be untethered from a computer or smartphone, the person said. The project, codenamed T288, is still in its early stages but is slated for release in 2020.
The maverick of personal computing is looking for its next big thing in spaces like healthcare, AR, and autonomous cars, all while keeping its lead in consumer hardware. With an uphill battle in AI, slowing growth in smartphones, and its fingers in so many pies, can Apple reinvent itself for a third time? Get the detailed analysis on Apple's trove of patents, acquisitions, earnings calls, recent product releases, and organizational structure. In many ways, Apple remains a company made in the image of Steve Jobs: iconoclastic and fiercely product focused. But today, Apple is at a crossroads. Under CEO Tim Cook, Apple's ability to seize on emerging technology raises many new questions. Looking for the next wave, Apple is clearly expanding into augmented reality and wearables with the Apple Watch and AirPods wireless headphones. Apple's HomePod speaker system is poised to expand Siri's footprint into the home and serve as a competitor to Amazon's blockbuster Echo device and accompanying virtual assistant Alexa. But the next "big one" -- a success and growth driver on the scale of the iPhone -- has not yet been determined. Will it be augmented reality, auto, wearables? Apple is famously secretive, and a cloud of hearsay and gossip surrounds the company's every move. Apple is believed to be working on augmented reality headsets, connected car software, transformative healthcare devices and apps, as well as smart home tech, and new machine learning applications. We dug through Apple's trove of patents, acquisitions, earnings calls, recent product releases, and organizational structure for concrete hints at how the company will approach its next self-reinvention. Given Apple's size and prominence, we won't be covering every aspect of its business or rehashing old news. There's strong evidence Apple is once again actively "cannibalizing itself," putting massive resources behind consumer tech that will render its own iPhone obsolete.
A decade ago, the late Steve Jobs stood and sat at a desk on stage at Apple's 2007 World Wide Developer's Conference for an hour and a half, master of ceremonies for the unveiling of OS X Leopard and, most importantly, the first glimpse of iPhone OS 1. No one could have envisioned what would happen with the iPhone as a development platform. Even Jobs didn't seem to know what he was about to unleash. All he offered third-party developers was the ability to build web-based applications for the still-untested smartphone that would launch a few weeks later. SEE ALSO: Apple's obsession with fitness and fashion is hurting the Apple Watch "[You can] write great apps, but yet keep the iPhone reliable and secure, all based on the fact that the iPhone has the full Safari engine in iPhone," he told developers.
This past May, I argued that augmented reality, where digital objects are imposed upon the user's physical world, would reach a broad audience faster than virtual reality, where users are transported into an entirely digital environment. I also said that Apple would the company to move AR forward. Here's what I wrote at the time: Which company will be the first to create an AR platform with mass appeal? My best guess is Apple, given the way it attacks markets with new software platforms that it then uses to sell hardware. Of course, Apple is rarely first to market with emerging technologies, and rivals like Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon won't be far behind.
The TL;DR version is: pretty much what they did in 2016. Update popular hardware, expand services, steer clear of new product categories and make a boatload of money. However, buried inside those pat and rather obvious observations is a company that may be in search of its mojo. There is nothing wrong with Apple or its offerings, but the company that reinvented and reinvigorated numerous product categories has spent the last two years polishing its own Apples. In my totally anecdotal Twitter poll on which word best described Apple in in 2016 -- Aggressive, Innovative, Slipping, Successful -- Slipping won by a commanding margin.