Several years after Amazon launched its Alexa digital assistant as part of its Echo home speaker, Apple is said to be moving toward the launch of its own version of the device. In fact, the company may be closer to finalizing a device than we thought — according to the latest reports, Apple employees are testing prototypes in their homes.
The report comes from Bloomberg, and it notes that Apple engineers just recently started in-home testing — and that the device could finally be launched at WWDC in June. It’s currently unclear what the device will look like — or if it will come with a display like Amazon’s latest offering, or just a speaker.
The original claim of the speaker’s existence came from blogger Sonny Dickson, a guy who over the years has called it right with a number of Apple leaks. In a tweet, Dickson said the Cupertino, California-based company is “currently finalising designs for their Alexa competitor, expected to be marketed as a Siri/AirPlay device.”
Apple is currently finalising designs for their Alexa competitor, expected to be marketed as a Siri/AirPlay device.
— Sonny Dickson (@SonnyDickson) April 27, 2017
The blogger added that the product is may carry some form of Beats technology and run a variant of iOS, with the latter point suggesting it could come with a touchscreen, something Amazon’s Echo device lacks though might one day include.
There have long been rumors that Apple is looking to build Siri — its own digital assistant that launched five years ago with the arrival of the iPhone 4S — into a piece of hardware similar to the Echo, and Dickson’s tweets this week suggest the company could be gearing up to unveil it in the coming months.
So, what would Apple’s offering let you do? Well, if it’s anything like Amazon’s Echo speaker and its Alexa assistant, or Google’s Home offering incorporating Google Assistant — or indeed Siri — users will be able to call out questions on any number of topics and expect a spoken reply within seconds. Want to listen to a song from your music library? Then simply call out the track and let your digital assistant take care of it. Echo and Home also let you control your integrated smart home appliances, so we can expect similar functionality involving Apple’s own technology.
We can also look for the tech giant to offer up something special in the way of features or hardware quality to help it stand out from its rivals and grab attention in the marketplace.
News that Apple may be close to unveiling its Echo/Alexa rival came on the same day that Amazon unveiled the Echo Look, a hands-free, voice-activated camera for the home that the ecommerce company is touting as a kind of fashion assistant so you can see how your outfits look in full-length snaps.
We wonder if Apple is already working on a rival offering …
Updated on 05-09-2017 by Christian de Looper: Added news that Apple engineers are reportedly testing a prototype in their homes.