The 11th annual D: All Things Digital conference kicked off in California last night, and Apple CEO Tim Cook was the first industry figure to take the stage. Speaking to AllThingsD’s Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, Cook unsurprisingly refused to get into too many specifics, but he did offer some insights into what the Cupertino clan may have in store for its millions of users in the future.
For one, Cook confirmed that Apple is indeed working on a new version of iOS, and that it will be detailed further at the company’s WWDC event next month. Cook says that Jony Ive, the man best known as the design lead behind past Apple hardware like the iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air, has been “really key” to the formation of the newest software iteration.
As far as how significant the changes will be, Cook told Swisher that he would “let you be the judge.” That’s about as specific as the CEO would get on the topic, but he also noted that the next iteration of OS X will be showcased at WWDC as well.
Given the recent wave of rumors concerning a potential Apple smartwatch, wearables was another natural topic of conversation. Again, Cook wouldn’t confirm any specific product coming down the pipeline, but he did generally say that wearables are “an area ripe for exploration,” and that “lots of companies will play in this space.” He commended Nike and its Fuelband fitness tracker, but noted that there’s still plenty of room for improvements in the field at large.
\”I would say that the [wearables] that are doing more than one thing, there\’s nothing great out there that I\’ve seen,” Cook said. “Nothing that\’s going to convince a kid that\’s never worn glasses or a band or a watch or whatever to wear one.\”
One device that Cook isn’t as high on is Google Glass. Though he said that Glass will probably “have appeal to certain markets,” Cook believes that the futuristic glasses will have a difficult time gaining “broad appeal.”
Speaking of Google, Cook also briefly teased the possibility of porting iOS apps over to Android – “if it made sense,” at least. When asked in an audience Q&A session whether or not Apple would be interested in bringing iCloud to other platforms, Cook answered with a higher-level response.
“To a general question of \’would Apple port an app from iOS to Android?’ We have no religious issue with doing that,” he replied. “If we thought it made sense for us to do that, we would do that.\” Cook said that branching Apple services like iCloud to Android still isn’t something that will happen today, but it appears as if the possibility is there for some time down the road.
Going with that same theme of greater openness, Cook also noted that Apple could be opening up its software APIs for developers, but only to a slight extent. \”On the general topic of opening up APIs, I think you\’ll see us open up more in the future, but not to the degree that we put the customer at risk of having a bad experience,” he said.
Cook acknowledged that certain Apple customers may want greater customization options like the kind Android provides, but also defended the company’s more restricted model, saying: “We think the customer pays us to make choices on their behalf.”
Finally, the question of an Apple HDTV still lingers, and Cook didn’t provide any details to dissuade those rumors from continuing. He merely repeated that television is still an “area of great interest” for the company, and that Apple has a “grand vision” for where its TV business could go. He did note that Apple TV sales have now reached 13 million, however, which he claims is “much larger” than the company expected.
In the end, Cook largely gave the kind of calculated responses one would expect from the CEO of a major tech company. Apple wants to break news on its own terms, and Cook at one point noted that catching people off guard is something the company will do when it’s ready.
“We believe very much in the element of surprise,” Cook said. “We think customers love surprises.”