What it is: As Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook occasionally hints of upcoming products.
Don’t listen to analysts. They can only see the short-term so they focus on incremental improvements in hardware. That’s why so many people are already criticizing Apple if they drop the standard audio jack in the next iPhone and why they think the latest Android smartphones are superior because they have better technical specifications.
Ultimately, only tech-savvy users care about technical specifications because the laundry list of technical specifications somehow implies that one product is superior to another by virtue of its faster processor or larger amount of memory. What technical specifications fail to tell you is why those specifications make a product better than another one.
A faster processor is nice, but if you can’t tell the difference between a faster processor and a slightly slower one, does it really matter? Superior products can be verified by anyone. Compare an iPhone to a Blackberry smartphone and it’s easy to see why Blackberry lost their leadership in the smartphone market.
Compare a Samsung Galaxy phone to an iPhone and there are minor differences between the two products. Some people prefer the Samsung Galaxy while others prefer the iPhone. Yet there’s no dramatic difference between the two of them unlike the dramatic difference between the iPhone and a Blackberry smartphone.
While analysts study the design and technical specifications of the next iPhone and already proclaim it will flop because it doesn’t offer anything new, Tim Cook has dropped another hint of what’s coming in the next iPhone.
Back in 2015, Apple acquired a German augmented reality company called Metaio. Just look up the company on the Internet to find plenty of YouTube videos of their technology that lets you aim the camera in your iPhone or iPad, peer at the scene through the screen, and see reality plus something more such as weather information or retail shop names overlaid over the actual scene.
Knowing Apple acquired an augmented reality company is a huge clue that Apple plans to make augmented reality part of the next iPhone/iPad. Recently Tim Cook dropped another clue by stating that “I think AR (augmented reality) is extremely interesting and sort of a core technology. So, yes, it’s something we’re doing a lot of things on behind that curtain that we talked about.”
Add augmented reality to the iPhone/iPad and suddenly if people want it, there’s no comparison between an iPhone and a Samsung Galaxy phone. The iPhone will have augmented reality and the Samsung Galaxy phone will not until Google hastily updates Android to offer that feature in much the same way that Google had to hurriedly modify Android to run on tablets.
Even years later, the iPad and iOS dominate tablet sales while Android tablets are often seen as cheap consumer products and not serious enterprise tablets.
You can see Samsung and Google’s rush to copy Apple with Apple Pay. Android Pay was previously known as Google Wallet and appeared long before Apple Pay, but never was popular. Samsung Pay is Samsung’s way to muscle in on the wireless payments system, but Samsung Pay is accepted in far fewer places than Apple Pay and Samsung Pay has to compete against Android Pay.
So even though both Samsung and other Android manufacturers can offer Android Pay or Samsung Pay, neither can match the popularity of Apple Pay.
Expect the same head start to allow Apple to dominate the world of augmented reality while Google and Samsung hurry to catch up. Because Apple will have a head start, they’ll take the lead and likely stake out a massive share of the augmented reality market.
Meanwhile, everyone else is pursuing the more limited world of virtual reality that forces you to strap a headset to your face. Unlike augmented reality that lets you use it when you want on your existing iPhone or iPad, virtual reality requires buying a separate device and carrying it around you whenever you want to use it. That means most people won’t carry it around.
Microsoft HoloLens is actually an augmented reality product, but it suffers from also forcing users to buy a separate device and lug it around wherever they want to use it. Would you rather use augmented reality on an iPhone or iPad that you can easily carry with you and use for other purposes? Or would you rather buy a separate Microsoft HoloLens and strap it to your face whenever you want to use it, then carry it with you when you don’t want to use it any more?
Tim Cook’s cryptic comments about augmented reality suggests Apple is readying an augmented reality solution soon for the iPhone. Since improved hardware specifications likely won’t differentiate the iPhone much from rival smartphones, expect augmented reality or some other software solution to make the next iPhone more compelling than rival Android phones.
It’s easy for other companies to match or exceed the hardware specifications of the iPhone. It’s much harder for those same companies to match the features the iPhone offers to consumers in terms of actual features people want to use on a daily basis, and augmented reality will likely be one of those features you’ll only see on the iPhone in the very near future.