Cook Hints Apple’s First realityOS Glasses Will Be AR, not VR

Despite speculation that Apple will debut a realityOS (rOS) headset next year, CEO Tim Cook says the metaverse is not yet ready for prime time, telling a European publication he’s “really not sure the average person can tell you what the metaverse is.” On a continental excursion that included a commencement address at the University of Naples Federico II in Italy, Cook appeared bullish on augmented reality, while downplaying virtual reality, the technology around which Meta Platforms is building its future. “I think AR is a profound technology that will affect everything,” Cook told the magazine Bright.

“Imagine suddenly being able to teach with AR and demonstrate things that way. Or medically, and so on. Like I said, we are really going to look back and think about how we once lived without AR,” CNBC reports Cook as saying Friday. The positioning makes perfect sense considering Apple’s focus on practical devices with IRL functionality.

That Cook’s European jaunt included a visit to the London set of Apple TV’s “Ted Lasso” (where he tweeted this image) indicates the company may be interested in fantasy, too.

The metaverse is arguably already here, with more to come. An Ipsos poll released in January indicated 38 percent of Americans said they are “very or somewhat familiar with the metaverse,” though only 16 percent could accurately define it.

What is relevant is Apple will be releasing some sort of eyewear next year, and it now appears this device will be strictly AR, with Apple VR tabled for 2024 or beyond. If Cook can pull off what Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg says is AR’s brass ring —  “not a headset, but something that’s like a normal-looking pair of glasses” — combining super compute power with Apple’s typical design cachet, that will be a huge feat.

“Unsurprisingly, Apple hasn’t yet publicly touted any plans for the metaverse, a term typically used to describe VR platforms where people can interact, work, shop and play games using immersive technology like a virtual reality headset,” CNBC reports in its coverage of Cook’s European trip, adding that “companies from Microsoft to Disney have laid out metaverse plans.”

In a Q&A session following the University of Naples ceremony, at which Cook received an honorary doctorate in Innovation and International Management, the Apple CEO “suggested people might eventually think of AR as they do the Internet: ubiquitous and difficult to live without,” according to CNBC.

“Zoom out to the future and look back, you’ll wonder how you led your life without augmented reality,” said Cook. As for VR? “It’s something you can really immerse yourself in. And that can be used in a good way. But I don’t think you want to live your whole life that way.”