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Tim Cook on ARKit: ‘We don’t give a rat’s about being first, we want to be the best’

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It’s no secret that Apple CEO Tim Cook is high on his company’s new augmented reality platform, ARKit. He was back on the interview trail again on Tuesday, touting ARKit as possible Apple’s next big thing.

In an interview with the British newspaper The Independent, Cook compared the arrival of ARKit to when the App Store first arrived in 2008. Despite initial skepticism, the Apple App Store took off and mobile apps became the cornerstone of the iOS ecosystem.

“There was the initial round of apps and people looked at them and said, ‘this is not anything, mobile apps are not going to take off,” said Cook. “And then step by step things start to move. And it is sort of a curve, it was just exponential – and now you couldn’t imagine your life without apps. Your health is on one app, your financials, your shopping, your news, your entertainment – it’s everything. AR is like that. It will be that dramatic.”

After being announced in June during the Worldwide Developers Conference, the first generation of ARKit apps were launched last month with the release of iOS 11. With ARKit, iPhone and iPad users were able to overlay computer-generated graphics into real-world views on their devices.

With ARKit, users are able to check if a furniture model fits within a certain space, measure lengths and heights and bring the cosmos and the human anatomy into one’s bedroom. 

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Cook has been across the pond in Europe the past few days, most likely to assuage European leaders over unpaid taxes by Apple and other large tech companies. Last week, the European Commission — the European Union’s executive branch — sued Ireland for failing to recover a $13 billion tax bill against Apple.

On Monday, Cook met with French president Emmanuel Macron, who has been leading other European leaders in a call for tighter tax regulations against foreign tech companies. Cook reportedly did not push back against Macron’s idea during their meeting in Paris, according to Bloomberg.

The day after, Cook traveled to London, where he met with The Independent and local elementary school students at a London Apple store.

Apple is facing competition from other smartphone makers in augmented reality technology but Cook said he does not care. Google, for example, has announced its own platform called ARCore.

“We don’t give a rat’s about being first, we want to be the best, and give people a great experience,” said Cook.

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Apple has the scale to stay ahead of its competition in both the short term and the long term. With ARKit, millions experienced augmented reality for the first time. And Cook hopes 15 million iOS app developers is a big enough base to find some who might work on ARKit to generate new apps that use the platform.

“The way that you get lots of great ideas is for us to do the heavy lifting of the complexity of locational things and software, and put those in the operating system,” says Cook. “And then you have all the developers that are able to put their energy into their passion.”

Cook also touted Apple’s unique position to completely control its hardware and software ecosystems. Android, while being the largest operating mobile system in the world, is heavily fragmented among many smartphone makers.

“It goes to what Apple is about – the integration of those two things, with the App Store on the server side,” said Cook. “I think it’s going to be hard for other folks.”

Photo: Apple CEO Tim Cook watches as members of the media check out the new MacBook Pro at the company’s headquarters in Cupertino on Oct. 27, 2016. (Dan Honda/Bay Area News Group)

Tags: Apple, ARKit, augmented reality, Tim Cook

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