Tim Cook’s mic-drop moment

Why are all the Apple rumors accelerating?

Apple, Tim Cook, AR, VR, augmented reality, apple car, iOS, Mac
Credit: Apple

Has anybody else noticed how the rate of emergence of new Apple rumors appears to be accelerating? Surely I’m not alone in witnessing Apple's alphabet of looming innovation becoming increasingly more visible?

Alternative facts

I confess, it upsets me when I read some of the criticism thrown at Apple CEO Tim Cook. I find it insanely crass that so many anti-Cook forum posters confuse their own prejudice about his sexuality with valid critical point.

Others seem to have convinced themselves that Apple must invent a big new product category every year but choose to ignore that innovation needs time to grow in, also ignoring the new hits Apple has introduced. Just like the iPhone, AirPods and Apple Watch will be understood as agents of profound change within five years. We have travelled a long way in the computer world since the launch of the Apple I.

We know Apple has been working on new product categories.

We know all this and yet the tired critical narrative continues to claim that Apple isn’t inventing, slamming Tim Cook as “Pipeline Tim.”  This is not quite "alternative facts," but it is a flawed narrative that just doesn’t reflect reality.

Adjust your (mind) set

Why not take a moment to look at things differently? Let me try to adjust your (mind) set by looking at some of the recent Apple rumors:

  • Apple has hired 3D360VR Toolbox developer, Tim Dashwood to join its Final Cut X team. He’s an expert in developing 3D VR plugins. I see this hire as a move to put VR creation tools inside Apple’s systems. We’ll need those tools.
  • Apple was recently granted permission to test self-driving cars on California roads. A document detailing the company’s self-driving vehicle training program leaked soon after. There can no longer be any doubt the company is developing systems for these vehicles.
  • Apple has invested $1 billion in Didi Chuxing. That company recently opened its own self-driving lab near Apple in California. Cook recently wrote that he thinks connected vehicles could help “traffic jams go the way of the flip phone”.
  • Analysts have previously predicted Apple will use AR in its autonomous car systems – I think this could work in similar fashion to Orange Business Service’s WayRay Navion system.
  • Apple has recruited key satellite execs from Google to work as part of a new team. The move suggests the company seeks a connectivity solution to keep its devices globally connected. This may have relevance to wearables, maps, and vehicles.
  • There is a growing consensus that Apple’s iPhone 8 will ignite a tidal wave of adoption. This is going to be a slow season for smartphone sales, pending Apple’s introduction.
  • Gizmodo recently published details from internal Apple reports that seem to suggest the company is testing some form of eye wear, speculating these will include VR/AR glasses.

Big picture stuff

None of these claims are new.

We’ve heard speculation of Apple’s plans for cars, VR, and AR for months. What has changed is that we are now seeing some big regulatory admissions from the Carpool Karaoke licensee (which we now know wants to begin testing cars on Californian roads).

Here is how I think the story will go

We will see Apple introduce 3D VR creation tools around the same time as it introduces VR consumption tools.

Those tools will be limited at first, but it’s reasonable to suggest they will work in conjunction with Apple Maps. If they do work in conjunction with Maps, it’s reasonable to suggest we’ll eventually see indoor and outdoor AR experiences, alongside AR solutions for vehicle navigation.

Potentially we’ll see these appear first as an element inside CarPlay, before broadening out into immersive experiences for use in conjunction with glasses, and automated automotive experiences for use with connected cars.

Each new solution on its own will be of interest, but Apple will be able to leverage these technologies across its ecoystem, enabling further incremental innovation ahead.

Will we like it? That I can’t predict. I think Tim Cook probably hopes you do –  because the products that follow this transition will be even more interesting, once these new building blocks in are put in place.

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