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Tim Cook hints at new health products beyond the Watch; talks Apple TV, iPad Pro killing PCs, encryption


In a wide-ranging interview with the Telegraph, Apple CEO Tim Cook has hinted that the company may launch more health-focused products in future – but will keep those separate from the Apple Watch. The reason, he says, is that the FDA approval needed for full-on health devices would slow down the pace of innovation of the Watch.

Cook hints that Apple may have more plans for the health sphere, in a revelation which will intrigue Wall Street, but he doesn’t want the watch itself to become a regulated, government-licensed health product. “We don’t want to put the watch through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) process. I wouldn’t mind putting something adjacent to the watch through it, but not the watch, because it would hold us back from innovating too much, the cycles are too long. But you can begin to envision other things that might be adjacent to it — maybe an app, maybe something else.” 

This represents a significant change from expectations …

It had previously been expected that Apple would add further sensors to future models of the Watch, giving it more health and fitness functionality. Speculation has included both O2 saturation – something that could potentially have been done with the existing heart-rate monitor – and blood sugar monitoring.

While Cook is giving nothing away, suggesting that future health plans may be limited to apps, many measurements would require hardware – and it now seems that hardware won’t be built into the Watch.

He again wouldn’t be drawn on Watch sales, but said that he expected to set a new sales record this quarter – though this is pretty much a no-brainer in the holiday season. It was recently estimated that Apple has shipped 7M watches to date.

Similarly with the new Apple TV, he would say only that early sales have been “extremely strong, very strong.” He added that the number of apps being created have been “much larger than we would have predicted.” Given the variety of these – from games to home rentals – Cook argues that the device “will really change the living room entirely.”

He also deflected the talk of Apple offering its own TV subscription, replacing cable service, echoing non-answers given by Eddy Cue.

We will see. The key question for us is: can we do something better, that acts as a catalyst? If we conclude that we can, then we would. But I wouldn’t do something just to do something.

Cook also suggested that with the launch of the iPad Pro would accelerate the post-PC era long predicted by Steve Jobs.

I think if you’re looking at a PC, why would you buy a PC anymore? No really, why would you buy one?

Yes, the iPad Pro is a replacement for a notebook or a desktop for many, many people. They will start using it and conclude they no longer need to use anything else, other than their phones.

He acknowledged that the move to larger iPhones had cannibalised existing iPad sales, but repeated an oft-heard line that Apple isn’t afraid to do so.

“I think if you have the larger phone, you’re less likely to have the iPad mini”, he says, though he insists that the demand won’t fall to zero.

Some consumers use the iPad mini to read in bed, he says, finding it more relaxing than using a phone and the busyness that goes with it. That won’t change, he believes. “But I think it clearly created some cannibalisation – which we knew would occur – but we don’t really spend any time worrying about that, because as long as we cannibalise [ourselves], it’s fine.”

Finally, Cook weighed in on the British government’s controversial Investigatory Powers Bill – which has been dubbed the Snooper’s Charter. This would require tech companies to provide decrypted versions of user communications to the authorities when presented with a warrant. Apple would currently be unable to do so for iMessages or FaceTime, as both employ end-to-end encryption, meaning that Apple doesn’t hold the key.

Any backdoor is a backdoor for everyone. Everybody wants to crack down on terrorists. Everybody wants to be secure. The question is how. Opening a backdoor can have very dire consequences […]

If you halt or weaken encryption, the people that you hurt are not the folks that want to do bad things. It’s the good people. The other people know where to go

It has been suggested that if the Bill passed, Apple would have to abandon end-to-end encryption or stop selling iPhones within the UK.

Cook added that he was optimistic that the proposed new law will be rejected as both the public and the press are “engaged deeply” in the debate.

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  1. Alex Moran - 7 years ago

    I think I’m in minority within the tech crowd when I say that my iPad is my primary computing device at home. I use it for Web, mail movies casual gaming. The only time my Macbook is in use is when I’m transferring (mostly movies) to my iPad.

    This makes me really excited for the bigger iPad Pro. Also as a doodler the  pencil is attractive to me as well

    Ay the same time I funny understand people’s inability to see the point of the iPad pro

    • J.latham - 7 years ago

      The problem with me and the iPad line is really my phone not my computer. I think in the pro community there are things that right now you just can’t do on the iPad. This may change over time. I was really expecting a version of Xcode for the iPad pro and I think that would’ve been a great step in the right direction to show that Apple really sees this as a “pro” device.

      • Alex Moran - 7 years ago

        Fully understand that. To be honest I have a feeling that iOS 10 is going to focus alot on ipad pro

        Then again this is based on wishful thinking and not any kind of rumors

        I would also like at least the pro to do away with iTunes for transferring content to the device. At least a little app that opens up on the computer as a normal drive, you then transfer into that, open the “finder” on ipad pro, tap the content and “open in” the appropriate app

  2. Roger Flattin - 7 years ago

    As for something adjacent to the Watch, it could be a smart bands that include sensors. It could then disconnect the process of validating particular sensor the Watch. You could also invest in a particular band and keep it for you next gen Watch.

  3. Dil Ribeiro - 7 years ago

    I do hope to see some smart bands in the near future. That would be fantastic.

  4. bellevueboy - 7 years ago

    Ladies and gentlemen….we call it the  Band👏🏼👏🏼

  5. André Hedegaard - 7 years ago

    iPad Pro killing PC’s….LOL!!
    Some people live in fairy tale land thats for sure!

    • They are merely regurgitating what they originally said when the original iPad was released 5 years ago. “Tablets are going to destroy the PC market” they said – then four years later sales tank. The iPad Pro isn’t going to alter that trend I’m afraid – certainly not in it’s current incarnation.

      Apple’s marketing spin is brilliant, but it’s not infallible – they need to change their tune a bit because slowly but surely they are being found out by Joe Public, and just in case anybody is going to twist on about what I’m saying – I have a 5k iMac, Apple Watch and iPhone 6 right here – I’ve earned my right to criticise Apple as a business methinks.

    • One only has to look at Microsoft’s new (and better) corporate strategy to realize that this is the direction things are going. Pushing against Apple with a Windows Phone was a giant flub. Moving to make yourself relevant in a transitioning environment like Adobe and now Microsoft is the future. I am sure Mr. Ballmer would appreciate your “fairy tale” theory since he also held on to it until his last day at Microsoft (Nokia acquisition was brilliant, wasn’t it?), but the real world is driven by global consumers, and the companies realizing this will remain relevant (including Apple). I’m perfectly happy carrying an iPad Pro with Microsoft, Google, Adobe, and many other companies’ products on it if it optimizes my productivity. What will mass market consumers say, “No, I prefer my antique pc!”

    • Jeffrey Miller - 7 years ago

      Only reason i own a pc is for .net development. Other than that, i do everything else on my iPhone. For 90% of the home retail markets, a good tablet/phablit/phone is all that is required for 90% of what a PC does.

      The fairy tale is perpetuating the myth that a full blown pc is necessary to people who don’t develop, participate in high end gaming and don’t use them for commercial purposes.

    • André Hedegaard - 7 years ago

      In the corporate market, PC’s still dominate. Everything from small businesses to large companies. They simply are prevalent. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy Apple products, I use iPhone, iPad, iMac and now just bought a Macbook which I’m taking to work, to use to convince the company to use it instead of PC’s.
      However, what is lacking is Apples support for business, they devoted themselves way too much for many years towards artists, consumer.
      This might change however, but if I were to imagine people using an iPad to sit at a desk and do corporate bookkeeping, orders, RMA (warranty services), logistics and MOST often using tailored software for the PC – in a language that can be understood for other companies such as file sharing and data sharing – to say that iPad is a PC killer is absolutely retarded! Its completely a few fathoms of concentrated nonsense. The danger of believing too much in a company and its products, is that you become deluded to reality.

  6. Robert - 7 years ago

    I think the main point of Tim’s comment was along the lines of ‘the Watch is not going to add health sensors, so all you people that said you won’t buy it but will wait for version 2 that you think will have more health sensors, you may as well go out and buy one’

  7. vkd108 - 7 years ago

    When is he gonna let us connect games consoles to our iMacs to use them as monitors?

  8. ashtraywasp - 7 years ago

    I just wanna add something in regards to the UK IP Bill.

    The bill goes waaaayy further than anyone seems to realise. This write-up at Ars Technica really sums up some of the worst parts of it.

    Apple *would* be forced to implement a backdoor or hack its own customers if the UK government asked. And if Apple spoke up about it, they would be threatened with jail time.

    The scariest part of it isn’t even the requirement for ISPs to store your browsing history. It’s all this stuff; the gagging and the hacking. In clear language it legislates the police(!) and security services hacking into people’s phones and computers.

    In fact, probably scarier, the bill actually states that the UK is already engaged in hacking, with no apparent oversight. This bill is just writing it into law.

    Although I trust iOS and OS X’s security in general, it would be stupid not to imagine that GCHQ and the NSA haven’t got a lot of vulnerabilities stockpiled. They’re gonna have way more security researchers employed than Apple, and seen as though Apple shamefully still doesn’t have a bug bounty like every other tech company, they’re not really holding iOS and OS X’s feet to the fire.

  9. Mustafa Gerçek - 7 years ago

    They will go to smartstraps by adding an I/O. There were reports they already did, but did not activate it for now. By allowing even third parties to use that I/O they will open the door for a new broad market.

    So the watch will become a hub for your data and the third parties have to deal with the FDA. Apple will have to ensure the security and encryption of the data… Well, Britain teaches us how good Apple is at that point..

    • o0smoothies0o - 7 years ago

      No. Apple will build the sensors. No one is going to trust third parties with sensors that need billions of dollars poured into to be accurate. Like Apple’s heart rate sensor being far more accurate than any other wrist worn sensor, these too will be the only ones to get FDA approval. It’s a brilliant move by Apple to allow the watch to continue to get better, whilst letting the FDA take the time to pass their bands.

      • Mustafa Gerçek - 7 years ago

        No you are wrong. It might be Apples decision to allow it, but there are health hardware companies who spend billions and billions over decades to develop the hardware used today. And they are not stopping, a lot of companies begin to develop and some even to ship devices like watches but with a very specific function. It would be crazy from Apple to try to develop every single sensor on their own.

        Apple might one of the best companies but the health business is a very other world, and Apple is far far away from dominating that market. I don’t think that they even want to do that much in that business. That’s why like the AppStore, open the device an watch the health-world dancing.

  10. Jake Becker - 7 years ago

    All the pounding about muh proper file system and muh desktop and yada yada yada….Apple has been pushing everything in the direction of the cloud for a LONG time now………….a few of these arguments are understandable, but it is all about portability and integration with the cloud and that is the way people will need to get used to operating to exploit iPad Pro or the newest Macbook. Many apps have already been adapting accordingly and it’s only a matter of time before all the pro apps come out of the woodwork doing the same.


Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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