Cook last week visited the world’s third-biggest economy for the first time as Apple CEO. He used the trip to announce the opening of the new development base in Yokohama later this year, which will focus on artificial intelligence and other cutting-edge technology.
Smartphones have already revolutionized the world of business by allowing employees all the way up to CEOs to communicate more clearly, work remotely and better organize their time.
But there could be a lot more to come for smartphones, according to Cook, who said the Japanese facility will help Apple expand the primary role of iPhones as accessories for day-to-day life to tools for business and medical care.
Cook replaced former Apple CEO Steve Jobs just over five years ago and has come under increasing pressure to innovate. The iPhone market is close to saturation, crimping revenue growth and causing Apple shares to flat-line. The Apple Watch hasn’t been a game-changer and the iPhone 7 released in September, while boasting several new features such as remote headphones and water resistance, wasn’t revolutionary.
Cook, however, reminds us that the smartphone is only nine-years old.
“We are not even teenagers yet, we just got going,” Cook told Japan’s Nikkei news agency, while being interviewed on a bullet train. “I think there is an incredible future ahead.”
The AI capabilities on smart devices have already come a long way in recent years. In June, Apple released a new version of its QuickType predictive texting software, which offers a number of suggested message replies straight from the Siri robot built into its devices. Google is developing similar technology, called SmartReply, for its Android operating system.
The technology will make it easier to respond to business emails or requests for comments from regulators, lawyers or the media. AI also promises far more sophisticated applications, such as allowing individuals to identify and locate customers to hone their marketing strategies.
Cook said AI could also help boost smartphone battery life and even help people remember where they’ve parked their car. But he’s being coy about exactly what’s going to happen in Yokohama.
“I cannot tell you the specifics,” Cook said. “The specific work is very different.”