Tim Cook sits down with Vogue, talks AR, fashion and shopping


Imagine that you’re out to lunch, and in walks a woman wearing a terrific-looking coat. Who designed it? Did she buy it last season, or is it still on sale? Covertly, you give her coat a quick scan on your smartphone, find out it’s available on Farfetch, and moments later it’s on its way out for delivery.

According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, that future may not be far off. In a sit-down interview with Vogue, the leader of the world’s most valuable technology company said he is betting big on augmented reality (AR), which he believes will transform everything from runway shows to shopping. “I don’t think there is any sector or industry that will be untouched by AR,” he said.


It will also take some time before we’ll be able to scan and identify other women’s coats on our phones. Cook says the company has no plans to build the giant database of clothes, shoes and other goods that would make it possible. But Apple does plan to support companies who might embark on such an endeavour, he said.

I do think the ability to point your phone at a product and have it identified, with a shopping link, will have a powerful impact on retail. I suspect that Amazon is perfectly placed to reap the benefits from that technology.

One issue I see is the idea of pointing your phone at someone to take a picture of their clothing or shoes. There’s a high level of creepiness potential there, not sure how that becomes normalized.

  • ill worry about that right after i stop worrying about thieves cutting off my fingers or swiping my AirPods out of my ears.

    • Alex Hon

      the finger/hand cutting thing actually happened in China. The thieves would drive off with the bleeding hand and the phone!

  • Alex Hon

    As long as you dress in stuff nobody wants, and act normal, then those who point cameras at you are definitely creeps, no confusion there!

  • SV650

    You could simply express your interest and ask permission to take a photo.

  • I’ll just go out naked. That should stop people taking pictures of my clothes.

  • Mo

    Buyin’ stuff.

  • rick gregory

    That’s the complication – most of the time you won’t be able to take a perfect picture of the garment, it will be a quick snap, probably at an odd angle.

    While I see this helping Amazon, I can see it helping small designers too. A friend of mine designs and makes women’s handbags… imagine someone seeing her bag on the streets of NYC (where she lives) snapping the photo and getting a link to her online store. That would be great. I imagine fashion bloggers would use this too – again, good for small designers if their stuff is snapped.

  • Eugene

    Ha, my first thought was if it can distinguish between a real and a knockoff!