Apple will want to bring augmented reality to the intersection of technology and the liberal arts, to augment and enhance human capabilities.
The news that Apple hasn’t joined a whole new industry alliance that seems to be mostly driven by its competitors isn’t terribly surprising.
Augmented and Virtual Reality should not be defined as shopping experiences with virtual design, NFT and escapism – these powerful tools should become solutions that extend and encompass our existing universe.
What is the story?
Apple has apparently refused to join a new group called the Metaverse Standards Forum, which includes some of the biggest names in this new dimension. Currently, member companies include Microsoft, Sony, Nvidia, Adobe, and some of Apple’s biggest competitors, including Facebook (now Meta) and Epic Games.
For what it’s worth, Alphabet also hasn’t joined the group, which describes itself as a space where companies and standards organizations “promote alignment” on “metaverse interoperability standards.” To achieve this, the group says it will “accelerate” the development of the standards by carrying out “pragmatic and action-based projects”.
What is the Metaverse Standards Forum?
The idea behind these “action-based projects” is apparently to help different views of the metaverse work together, which sounds good in a certain Overton window. Which might not be great, especially if they all offer the ability to spend non-virtual money on virtual designer clothes.
Specifically, the Forum claims to be able to engage in “various technology areas,” such as:
- Interactive 3D assets and photorealistic rendering.
- Human interface and interaction paradigms including AR, VR and XR.
- User Generated Content.
- Avatars, identity management and privacy.
- Financial operations.
- IoT and digital twins.
- geospatial systems.
It should be noted that Apple is already working with some of the 35 founding companies mentioned in the Metaverse Standards Forum press release. He worked on the development of the USDZ 3D file format with Adobe and Pixar, for example.
It’s also worth noting that Apple doesn’t currently offer any products for the Metaverse, beyond the AR capabilities already available on its platforms.
Apple’s plans remain virtual – for now
Why would Apple join a metaverse association when it doesn’t have a product to do so? To do so would be to tacitly admit the company’s secret mission.
Apple CEO Tim Cook dropped some more clues about Apple’s AR plans in China last week: “I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunities in the space. Stay tuned and you’ll see what we have to offer,” he said.
But I don’t think it’s just a secret or a desire to put some distance between the company and some of its competitors. I also don’t think this represents the next iteration of the rules war.
(Some readers may recall the wars between videotape and high-definition television standards — those are likely to recur in the so-called metaverse.)
I think that’s a fundamental philosophical difference. While most of the buzz around the Metaverse is the idea of putting glasses on your head to explore virtual experiences like being a character in “The Sims”, I think Apple’s vision extends to more deep.
Augmented Reality should make reality better, while Virtual Reality should give people the ability to experience better worlds. Apple will want to bring these technologies to the intersection of technology and the liberal arts to augment and enhance human capabilities. It’s about creating solutions that are truly useful to people.
Apple does not build a metaverse
He wants to expand the universe, create solutions that transform lives, instead of allowing the creation of somewhat dystopian supra-realities that confuse our senses with no real purpose.
Currently, the only real risk it faces in not joining the new standards body is familiar to the company: Competitors may come to market first with their visions, but Apple will strive to deliver solutions that meet to real human needs. .
We’ve seen this before with the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. We tried it with the iPod. The resurgence of the Mac over the past 20 years reflects the same reality.
Ultimately, product design demands that what is produced deliver meaningful, purpose-driven experiences. I wouldn’t be too surprised if Apple quietly got involved in the new standards group, assuming the group can help make a difference.