from June 2017, Competition
Apple's newly unveiled Augmented Reality Kit (ARKit) has developers diving in and thinking about the possibilities. Apple provided a presentation of the technology at their World Wide Developers Conference earlier this month and it did not disappoint. Virtual objects were shown on a table, taking into account the surface size, camera movement and lighting solutions, all in real-time. Needless to say it was an impressive demonstration.
During the unveiling of ARKit, Apple had John Knoll of Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) provide a Star Wars VR presentation. John introduced Lauren Ridge of EPIC Games, who was backstage, complete with green screen and her VR goggles ready to go. John and Lauren showed off a Star Wars experience and some quick programming, adding in tie-fighters and Darth Vader for what played out as a pretty close call with the Dark Lord. It was cool stuff, but I started revisiting the presentation again. As Darth Vader came towards Lauren, what if she had a physical lightsaber that integrated into the game? ILM and EPIC Games could deliver the holy grail where VR and reality completely blur. But it could go much further.
Lately, Apple has been adding to their space exploration team. Not only does Apple have their sights set on your mobile life, but evidently they look up at night and think about how to reach for the stars. Apple recently added two of Google's satellite executives to some vaguely understood hardware team. In April an inside-the-satellite-beltway blog site talked of Apple working with Boeing regarding Low Earth Orbit (LEO) multi-thousand satellite deployment. Sounds cool, but when it comes to Apple, the age old question remains; What's in it for me?
Have you ever been on a cruise or taken a flight? How about visiting another country far away or hiking to parts unknown? In each scenario internet access often costs far too much to justify, or simply isn't available. If you've ever attended a college football game good luck getting anything in or out of your iPhone, as the towers are typically jammed solid with traffic. Now envision all these places, or virtually everywhere, providing strong signal with amazing speeds for any task, anywhere, any time. That's what's in it for you.
Project Titan, Apple's not-so-secret car program, has apparently been all over the map. But just when the Titan finally appeared to have legs, former Ford executive, Steve Zadesky, who was heading up Apple's automotive project, left the company in September, 2016. Filling Zadesky's vacuum, veteran Apple executive Bob Mansfield promptly took over the reigns. According to the New York Times, Mansfield immediately slashed the Titan workforce, whittling the program down to autonomous-only driving solutions. Earlier this week Apple CEO, Tim Cook, just revealed publicly that autonomous driving is indeed Apple's direction. But I've never bought into any Apple CEO's public comments (only delivering part of a picture they want us to see), nor do I buy into the "paper of record" rumors, nor should you.
Mansfield has saved many fledging programs at Apple, working with shoestring teams while delivering remarkable results. Project Titan had become a program losing it's Apple culture, while gaining a bloated staff with far too many Detroit executives running the show. Mansfield was tasked to bring the program back to Apple's roots with a lean and focused team. Evidence continues to mount an Apple car has always been – and still is – on it's way.
It's a curious thing, that Apple. To have all but ignored the Mac for years made going into the Apple retail stores seem like a walk through a computing history museum. "...and here is the MacBook Air. Launched in 2008 and still does not have a Retina display, Thunderbolt, or any other port for that matter." At least it is – slowly – getting harder to point out how slow Apple has been to getting Mac's updated. Cook and crew clearly took their eye off the Mac ball for years, but things have changed in Cupertino, and much needed updates are on their way. Does this mean Apple's leadership is listening to customers, or does it merely explain the pivot due to iPad's constant and decreasing sales since 2014?...