Speakers with smarts have certainly caught on since the launch of Amazon’s Echo in 2014. Amazon itself followed up with its own Dot and Tap devices in March, and Google unveiled its Google Home speaker last week. Now it seems that not only is Apple planning a similar device of its own, but the company has been at work on it for some time.
The device doesn’t yet have a name, but would be powered by an enhanced version of Siri, according to a report from The Information. In addition to providing standalone Siri support, the rumored device would also feature deep HomeKit integration and likely AirPlay, allowing it to function as a standard wireless speaker. There’s also a rumor it could include a facial-recognition camera, according to CNET.
Key to the device’s functionality is a more open Siri platform, something Apple has been reportedly debating internally since 2011. The company is said to be working on a Siri SDK that allows third-party developers to add integration for their apps to the new device, which could debut at WWDC.
Siri already features integrations with services from companies like Google and Yelp, but these have been fairly limited. The new, more open system would seem to mirror Apple’s changes on the latest model of Apple TV, opening up to third-parties and taking the company mostly out of the equation — developers would be responsible for making sure their apps properly integrate.
While this could seem like Apple jumping on the bandwagon, Siri has obviously been around since the launch of the iPhone 4S, and The Information’s sources say that the company has been working on the device since before the launch of the Amazon Echo. Details are few, but the device would be fairly simple, featuring a speaker, microphone, and internet connectivity, relying on HomeKit for more advance smart-home functionality.
If Apple does plan to introduce this new device or at least the Siri SDK, we don’t have long to wait to find out. WWDC kicks off next month on June 17, with Apple expected to finally introduce Siri for the Mac, as well as a rumored new, improved user interface for Apple Music.
Updated 5/27/2016 to include the CNET rumor about facial-recognition cameras.