Apple increased its R&D investment to $ 2.94 billion in the third quarter of 2017, around 6.5 percent of the company’s total sales in the quarter. It is a large advancement on the past years, and shows Apple has a few things big planned in the coming years.
The most talked about, at least by Apple executives, is augmented reality. At WWDC 2017, it announced ARkit, a new SDK for developers to build mixed reality apps on iPhone and iPad. IKEA is one of the launch partners on iOS 11, turning its entire catalogue to highly realistic 3D images.
A patent for mixed reality glasses, able to pull real-time data on points of interest, show the potential next step for Apple. CEO Tim Cook said AR could be as big as the smartphone in an interview with The Independent, and reports suggest it is turning into a passion project for the company.
The company is moving into AR at a critical time, with Google relaunching Glass as a tool for workers and companies like HP, Microsoft, and Intel all launching hardware and software dedicated to mixed reality.
Self-driving is reportedly one of the biggest projects inside Apple, although some say the company has curtailed the scope in the past few months. Originally, reports said Apple was working on the complete solution: hardware, software, and services, but after a change up in leadership it has apparently moved towards the software side.
In interviews, the firm’s executives have hinted that cars are but one part of automation, leading people to believe it is looking into drones, pods, or new types of transport. That said, the company recently received a license to test three self-driving cars in California.
Other major investments, outside of the normal iPhone, iPad, Mac lineup, possibly include wearables that pass FDA approval. Fitbit and Jawbone, two of the first major wearable brands, are both pivoting to the health industry, Apple is expected to follow suit.