Apple's Plans for Car and AR Headset Signal a Shift towards Practicality

Apple’s Plans for Car and AR Headset Signal a Shift towards Practicality

Apple is adopting a more realistic approach to product development in order to reach the automobile and mixed-reality headset sectors. In addition, the business improves device security with end-to-end encrypted iCloud backups, and Tim Cook attends the unveiling of TSMC’s new Arizona facility.

The Starters

Apple Inc. is seldom the first to emerge in a new industry: the Sony Walkman came before the iPod; Palm and BlackBerry dominated the phone market before the iPhone; Microsoft had tablets before the iPad, and the Google wearable platform came before the Apple Watch.

However, Apple’s submissions have upended their respective categories. Apple revolutionized the industry with the iPod, which had a white plastic and aluminium look as well as a click wheel. The iPhone and iPad made all-screen smartphones and app stores mainstream. The Apple Watch included enhanced health sensors as well as a phone-like user interface. Even though Apple was not necessarily first, the business seemed ahead of its time.

Apple, on the other hand, maybe embracing a different approach these days: pragmatism. As it prepares to enter two big categories — a mixed-reality headset and an electric automobile — the business aims to be less innovative and more pragmatic, all in the interest of bringing the goods to market.

Tim Cook (and Steve Jobs before him) have often said that Apple is more concerned with becoming the greatest in a certain area than with being the first. It has earned a competitive advantage by creating new interfaces and utilizing technology in novel ways. That was evident with the iPhone, which ditched physical keyboards in favour of a touch screen, and the iPad, which had a massive display and a 10-hour battery life.

However, with its future offerings, the corporation is eager to make greater concessions in order to gain entry into a new market.

To begin, consider the impending mixed-reality headgear. The smartphone will undoubtedly be cutting-edge, with high-resolution screens, many external cameras, and a new version of iOS called xrOS. Its sleek appearance and fast processing should allow it to outperform Meta Platforms Inc. and Sony Group Corp. products.

However, it will not accomplish the industry’s holy grail: genuine augmented reality. The ideal scenario is to have a set of lightweight glasses that can contribute data and graphics to your real-world experience without being bulky or irritating. For the time being, the technology just isn’t there.

As a result, Apple will instead provide mixed reality, a hybrid of augmented and virtual reality. The headgear will be a virtual reality system at its heart, but it will also employ cameras to create a kind of augmented reality experience.

When Apple first entered this market approximately seven years ago, the goal was that AR glasses will be able to replace the iPhone by beaming information into the user’s field of vision, allowing them to make and receive calls, and serving up content.

Cook began advertising that concept in 2016, telling Good Morning America that AR is preferable to VR because it “allows both of us to sit and be very present.” Later, at a conference in Utah, he condemned VR goggles, stating that “few people are going to think that it’s OK to be enclosed in something.”

Nonetheless, Cook’s critiques about VR started to fade as Apple decided to produce a product that would take that approach – the enclosed headgear design that the CEO had considered unsuitable.

The rationale for the move is obvious: true augmented reality glasses are still several years away. Miniaturization of components, battery technology, lenses, software support, and manufacturing capabilities are all far from ready for prime time.

Or, as Cook put it a year ago, the technology for AR glasses “doesn’t exist to do it in a quality way.” The display technology necessary, as well as placing enough things around your face, present significant problems. The field of view as well as the display’s quality, still are inadequate.”

Rather of waiting until 2025 or later, when genuine AR glasses may be viable, Apple will take the pragmatic path and produce a stopgap product using the greatest mixed-reality technology available now. And it seems that Apple made the correct option, particularly considering that it does not want to relinquish a lucrative hardware market to Meta.

The same thing happened with the Apple vehicle. When Apple decided to construct a car in the early 2010s, autonomy was not a top goal. The corporation was more concerned with competing with Detroit and Tesla Inc. in terms of design, battery technology, hardware and software integration, and luxury materials.

However, after a few years of work, Apple executives realised that an automobile would need a distinct differentiation in order to be worth deploying. Enter autonomy: Apple grew obsessed with the idea of releasing a vehicle with complete self-driving capabilities and no pedals or steering wheel.

That ambition – the pursuit of something that has befuddled the whole automobile industry – rapidly harmed Apple, resulting in management upheaval, layoffs, and project restarts.

As a result, another compromise was reached. Apple has abandoned its plans to create a completely autonomous vehicle. Instead, it is currently developing a more typical electric vehicle with a steering wheel and pedals. There will still be autonomous capabilities, but they will be tailored to highway driving.

With innovative features and interaction with the company’s other goods, an Apple automobile will be able to differentiate from rivals. And although the car’s self-driving skills should steadily improve and spread to other locations, the business is no longer waiting till it achieves Level 5 — the auto industry’s elusive peak of autonomy.

Apple’s next main product categories may not have the same commercial impact as the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. However, they are less likely to be stranded in limbo now that Apple has become more realistic.

The Bench

Apple is delaying the release of its automobile until 2026 as it scales down self-driving technology.

As previously stated, Apple’s design for an electric vehicle has undergone another fundamental adjustment: a transition from a completely autonomous vehicle (that can transport you from point A to point B without driver assistance) to something a little more conventional. The new concept envisions a vehicle with a steering wheel and pedals, as well as self-driving capability for motorways but not city streets.

Apple made the shift after years of working for a completely autonomous goal that is unlikely to be realised for decades. Along with the fundamental adjustment, the business has pushed back its projected delivery date to 2026 and is now hoping to offer its vehicle to customers for less than $100,000 per vehicle. It is also searching for a partner to help it improve its underlying technology (the steering system and car base).

Apple improves security by offering end-to-end encrypted iCloud backups.

This week, the business introduced three big security enhancements: end-to-end encrypted iCloud backups, physical security keys, and contact verification inside iMessage. The encrypted backups are the most important piece of news. It implies Apple will not have access to the encryption key for the majority of the data you back up to iCloud (excluding mail, contacts and calendars).

This is significant because if a hacker obtains access to your cloud data, all of the security safeguards built into Apple’s hardware and software are rendered ineffective. That shouldn’t happen now that backups have been improved. Physical security keys are an added advantage. Of course, Google has had that capability for years for its own accounts, but it’s wonderful to see Apple follow up.

Tim Cook launches Apple’s Made-in-America chip effort in Arizona.

Tim Cook arrived at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.’s Arizona chip factory opening ceremony, as anticipated in my report last month, to confirm that Apple would begin manufacturing chips in the United States. This is a major thing for local manufacturing and the company’s efforts to lessen dependence on Asia-based production, although the work will be very restricted for the time being.

When it opens in 2024, the factory will produce just roughly 20,000 wafers each month. Even though Apple will be the biggest TSMC client in Arizona, it will only get around one-third of the facility’s supplies. Furthermore, the chips themselves will be less complex than those created elsewhere. Even though TSMC committed to advance the technology to the 4-nanometer standard (an upgrade over the initial 5-nanometer goal), this may be out of date by the time flagship iPhones are needed in 2025 and beyond.

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