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Why Apple CEO Tim Cook doesn't ask, 'What would Steve Jobs do?'

Tim Cook and Steve Jobs in 2007
Getty Images
Tim Cook and Steve Jobs in 2007

The spirit of late co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs still guides Apple's now-CEO Tim Cook, but Cook said he's not sitting back and wondering, "What would Steve do?" when he makes decisions.

"I really want [Jobs'] legacy to be with Apple 10 years from now, a hundred years from now, a thousand years from now," Cook said at an event in Utah on Friday. "Not for Apple to be constrained by it. We're not thinking, 'What would Steve do?' We're not thinking that. But we're very much married to his vision of making the best products."

Cook made a public appearance at the Utah Tech Tour, where Senator Orrin Hatch led a wide-ranging question-and-answer session about Cook's decision to join Apple, what he looks for in employees, the iPhone 7 and Apple's philosophy about products.

In the five years Cook has led Apple, many have looked to him to prove he can fill the shoes of the innovative, charismatic and iconic Jobs — as if leading the world's most valuable company wasn't enough. The company has shifted over that time, releasing the Apple Watch and growing its internet services.

Cook told the audience he'd never dreamed he would become CEO of Apple, but he's able to block out the outside pressures to answer "the call of a lifetime."

"There's so much noise in the world every day," Cook said. "People want us to do this or that or the other thing.... The feeling that [Jobs] always had of not accepting the status quo. The rebel. That's very much still the heartbeat of the company."

Most recently, the company has invested heavily in the camera and software in the iPhone 7 — an example, Cook said, of Apple's "insanely great" integrated approach. For instance, Apple's new app, Memories, uses artificial intelligence to organize photos into videos and slideshows, working together with the camera to make people's lives simpler.

"It'll really make your heart sing," Cook said.

Some technologies that are now on Cook's mind include encryption and augmented reality, he told the audience.

Despite increasingly large-scale cyberattacks, Cook said that he thinks Apple customers still have a reasonable expectation of privacy. He said he also thinks that users will someday find it hard to believe they ever lived without augmented reality technology.

Jobs' spirit makes decisions easy, Cook said, because he's learned to focus on saying "no" to products that are cool but don't enrich people's lives. Cook has preserved Jobs' office at Apple.

"From my point of view, Steve — his spirit will always be the DNA of the company," Cook said. "He embodied who we are. It was his vision that Apple should make the best products, and it was his vision that they should enrich people's lives. Lots of other things will change with Apple, but that will never change."

Watch the full video, captured from the audience, below: