Apple's Tim Cook: Virtual reality is 'no substitute for human contact'

In an interview with Buzzfeed Japan, Apple’s Tim Cook has stated that when it comes to augmented and virtual realities, Apple is most interested in augmented reality for its ability to “amplify” the human experience rather than act as a “barrier”. 

Until now, Apple has never been entirely clear when it comes to stating its intentions towards augmented and virtual reality technologies. While direct competitors Microsoft and Google have revealed a good deal about their plans, Apple has remained relatively quiet.

It’s probably safe to assume that Apple is either formulating its strategy and isn’t quite ready to reveal it yet, or it has one already and is simply biding its time. Considering how keen Apple always is to tie itself to ideas of innovation, it’s highly unlikely it’s going to let these technologies pass by without interacting with them at all.

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In his interview, Cook made Apple’s position slightly more clear, stating that as far as he’s concerned “there’s no substitute for human contact” and that “you want the technology to encourage that.” 

Out of the two burgeoning technologies, augmented reality is certainly the one that keeps its users most engaged with the real world. Cook's views couldn't be more opposite to those recently expressed by Oculus Rift inventor Palmer Luckey who said that it's not "necessarily a bad thing" if VR cuts down on human interactions. 

It'd be interesting to see how Mark Zuckerberg would react to Cook's comments, though, since his plans for VR appear to be highly sociable and intended to encourage more interaction between people. 

Although he thinks VR has “some interesting applications” Cook stated that he doesn’t believe it’s “a broad-based technology like AR.”

This isn’t the first time Cook has praised augmented reality, previously stating that he thinks it has the potential to be “huge” and that Apple is “high on AR for the long run.”

Outside of Tim Cook’s praises of the technology, Apple has never really made any attempt to state publicly that it’s working on AR. 

However, more than one of its business acquisitions and hires have hinted at its plans, including its purchase of German AR company Metaio and contracting Magic Leap’s Zeyu Li to be its senior computer vision algorithm engineer.

While it’s becoming increasingly clear that Apple’s working on something in the area of augmented reality, it’s still not certain when we’ll actually be made privy to its broader strategy. Considering Tim Cook said that the technology “will take some time to get right” it doesn’t look like there’s any immediate rush to make an announcement. 

Emma Boyle

Emma Boyle is TechRadar’s ex-Gaming Editor, and is now a content developer and freelance journalist. She has written for magazines and websites including T3, Stuff and The Independent. Emma currently works as a Content Developer in Edinburgh.