Hey, Siri! Apple finalizing designs for new smart speaker


The Amazon Echo may finally have competition from Apple.
The Amazon Echo is one of the most innovative tech products in recent years.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Apple is currently finalizing designs for its Amazon Echo competitor, claims renowned Apple tipster Sonny Dickson.

According to Dickson, the Echo rival is likely be “marketed as an Siri/AirPlay device,” representing the next step in Siri’s evolution. It is also set to involve some form of Beats technology, and will run an operating system based on iOS. Color us cautiously intrigued!

Apple’s Amazon Echo rival

There’s no more information in Dickson’s tweets, but this isn’t the first time we’ve heard about a standalone Siri device. A previous report suggested that Apple began tentative work on an Echo rival two years ago, and entered the prototype testing phase late last year.

While it would share the ability of the Amazon Echo to look up information and control smart home appliances using voice recognition, the big differentiator supposedly would be the device’s ability to use facial-recognition technology to detect users’ emotional states.

Why we need a standalone Siri device

I’ve written before that I’d love to see Apple produce an innovative standalone Siri device. The Echo is one of the more original tech products I used last year, and a move in that direction makes sense for Apple, particularly as the company continues to embrace services as well as hardware as a revenue stream.

Apple was one of the first companies to explore virtual assistants with Siri, which debuted on the iPhone 4s in 2011. However, in recent years Apple has given up a lot of ground to its rivals, which now frequently outperform Siri in both functionality and quality of voice recognition.

Apple is reportedly trying to catch up, though. In addition a bigger investment in artificial intelligence, the company is busy working on innovative tech like the ability for Siri to recognize individual users’ voices — something that could function as a form of biometric security system.

Would you like to see a standalone Siri? Leave your comments below.


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