Apple has reportedly placed the first orders for its standalone Siri smart speaker, a device designed to rival the Amazon Echo.
Inventec, the Taiwan company that makes Apple’s popular AirPods, received the order, which was reported by the Chinese-language Economic Daily News. No order numbers or production timeline have been revealed, although previous reports suggest Apple could unveil the device this June at its Worldwide Developers Conference.
Rumors about a standalone Siri device have circulated for some time now. Recently, KGI Securities’ Ming-Chi Kuo claimed Apple’s smart speaker will offer up high-end audio thanks to “one woofer and seven tweeters.”
Kuo said the Siri device would bring computing power similar to the iPhone 6s and start selling in the second half of 2017. It would reportedly be aimed at the high-end entertainment market, and carry a higher price than the $179 Amazon Echo.
Las week, Twitter tipster Sonny Dickson claimed Apple is close to finalizing the design of its Siri standalone device. The smart speaker is said to look like a “fat” version of the Google Home speaker, with mesh fabric covering the majority of the device and a concave top similar to that of the Mac Pro.
Initial rumors claimed Apple’s device might boast a facial recognition element for identifying users, although this hasn’t been mentioned since.
If Cupertino does introduce a standalone smart speaker later this year, it will come almost exactly six years after the Apple version of Siri debuted with the iPhone 4s. (Siri was initially a third-party iOS app.)