Tim Cook just teased Apple's AR future — Apple Glasses could change everything

Apple Glass concept
(Image credit: idropnews/Martin Hajek)

We’ve been waiting for someone to come up with a killer app for augmented reality, but it's probably not going to come via the iPhone. Apple CEO Tim Cook has some ideas on how AR could change the way we converse and interact with each other, and it's clear that these scenarios would work best with a wearable device. 

In an interview with Kara Swisher for The New York Times and her Sway podcast, Cook wouldn’t comment on the upcoming Apple mixed reality headset or the rumored Apple Glass, but he did provide a sneak preview of how devices like these could be used in the real world. 

“The promise of AR is that you and I are having a great conversation right now," Cook told Swisher. "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.”

Cook says that augmented AR conversations could have ramifications for various fields, including health, education, gaming and retail. For example, imagine if you could converse with your doctor while you're both reviewing your X-Rays in a 3D space. Or picture the ability to virtually try on clothes without having to touch a dressing room. 

Cook also teased that we could be seeing AR in products from Apple beyond the iPhone and iPad when he said “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.”

That future will reportedly include an Apple mixed reality headset that could arrive within the next several months, which will reportedly help developers create compelling AR apps. The headset is said to feature several exterior cameras and sensors, as well as eye tracking and iris recognition.

In addition, Apple’s mixed reality headset is expected to offer hand-tracking and gesture controls, as well as LiDAR sensors. The price for this mixed reality headset could range anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 based on reports, but there’s nothing firm as of yet. 

Further down the road, Apple will reportedly release Apple Glasses, which is expected to be lighter-weight eyewear that delivers augmented reality experiences on the go. Apple Glasses may work in tandem with an iPhone, but the earliest release date we’ve heard about would be 2023.

With Apple’s WWDC 2021 event coming up in June, Apple may use that event to talk about its augmented reality ambitions as part of iOS 15. But we would be surprised to see any new hardware announced at that developer-focused event. 

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.