Apple 'Pressing Ahead' Into Prototype Testing for Echo-Like Smart Home Device Powered by Siri

Apple is said to be "stepping up plans" for its connected smart home device powered by Siri, which would rival the technology that Amazon has made popular in its Alexa-enabled Echo speaker system (via Bloomberg). After two years of research and development, the Apple device is said to be in prototype testing, but because Apple hasn't officially finalized any plans it "could still scrap the project."

Similar to Echo, the Siri device is said to be able to control smart home accessories like lights, locks, and curtains all through voice activation, and would most notably be the first new piece of Apple hardware introduced since the Apple Watch, and the iPad before that. To compete with Amazon -- and Google's own similar device called "Google Home" -- Apple will introduce "more advanced microphone and speaker technology," according to people close to the project. This could potentially include an ecosystem-wide upgrade to Siri's current functionality.

amazon-echo

Beyond the home device, Apple is researching new ways to improve Siri on iPhones and iPads, two people said. With an initiative code-named “Invisible Hand,” Apple hopes to give users the ability to fully control their devices through a Siri command system within three years, one of the people added. Currently, the voice assistant is able to respond to commands within its application, but Apple’s goal is for Siri to be able to control the entire system without having to open an app or reactivate Siri.

For example, a user would be able to ask their iPhone to open a web page and then share it with a friend without the need to ever launch the Siri interface. Other examples from Apple’s current research include being able to print a PDF by speaking “print” while reading it or saying “help” in order for the system to help the user navigate a particular task or application. Apple has also been researching opening this ability to third-party apps, the person said.

A few prototypes in testing are said to include technology related to facial recognition, potentially fueled by Apple's acquisition of Faceshift and Emotient, "which may help the device act based on who is in a room or a person’s emotional state." Otherwise, the device will be able to perform all of the Siri actions expected of the personal assistant, including responding to text messages, playing music, searching the internet, and more. Apple Maps integration is a possibility, which Apple is considering so Siri could alert you exactly when to leave the house for an appointment.

Before it moved to a standalone speaker unit, Apple considered introducing Siri into a voice-activated feature on the new Apple TV, but the company decided on a more reliable button addition to the Apple TV remote over shouting commands across a room to activate Siri. In its original testing in 2014, Apple crafted a small and a large version of the Siri speaker, said to be like the Amazon Echo and Amazon Echo Dot, "but those early efforts may not translate into a final product."

The prototype phase has advanced to the point of Apple engineers testing the device in their own homes, according to the individuals with knowledge of the project. As Bloomberg pointed out, while this is not an exact measure of when the Siri speaker might launch, Apple CEO Tim Cook was known to test out the original iPad at his home "for roughly six months before its introduction." Apple employees also tested out the fourth-generation Apple TV about a year before its launch in 2015.

Ultimately, the Siri speaker is described as a way for Apple to "augment the iPhone," and drive sales for the company's devices following a year where it faced dwindling returns for its iPhone line. Its most recent device launches for the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, and Apple Watch Series 2 have all faced the expected initial shortages most Apple products encounter in their first few weeks on the market, but Apple has chosen not to reveal first weekend sales numbers for the iPhone 7 because it feels the results are "no longer a representative metric" due to demand outweighing supply.

Related Roundup: HomePod
Buyer's Guide: HomePod (Don't Buy)

Top Rated Comments

Rob_2811 Avatar
63 months ago
"Hey Siri, Turn the lights on"

"Here is what I found on the web for Hey Siri turn the lights on.."
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jmpage2 Avatar
63 months ago
"Me too, me too, me too!!!"

-Apple CEO Tim Cook

Too bad Siri absolutely sucks at doing anything useful and this thing would be an epic flop.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
DevNull0 Avatar
63 months ago
You know what would be better than a copycat of a silly Amazon toy?

AN MBP WITH A CPU NEWER THAN 2013!
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
smacrumon Avatar
63 months ago
This feature could be built into current devices. Why does anyone need a separate device? It could be built into Apple TV, iMac, Mac mini, it could, surprise, surprise, be built into iPhone! Apple doesn't need to follow the fads. This Amazon device will be in the e-waste landfill soon enough.

As for the quote:

"Ultimately, the Siri speaker is described as a way for Apple to "augment the iPhone," and drive sales for the company's devices following a year where it faced dwindling returns for its iPhone line."
The best way to face dwindling returns on the iPhone line could easily be resolved by introducing an ALL-NEW iPhone, in all three sizes 4-inch, 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch sizes, dropping the protruding camera and finally dropping the antenna lines.

Apple needs to get back to making great iPhones, not shiny third generation iPhone 6 models.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
leroypants Avatar
63 months ago
Tim Cook: That Echo device is great, lets steal the idea and tell people our device is "magical", and then threaten Amazon with patent lawsuits.

Jony Ivy: On it.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Rogifan Avatar
63 months ago
The best way to face dwindling returns on the iPhone line could easily be resolved by introducing an ALL-NEW iPhone, in all three sizes 4-inch, 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch sizes, dropping the protruding camera and finally dropping the antenna lines.

Apple needs to get back to making great iPhones, not shiny third generation iPhone 6 models.
You really think somebody isn't buying an iPhone because of a camera bulge or an antenna line? Especially when most people stick their phones in cases right away? BS. People aren't buying phones as often because the phones now are really good and the leaps in technology improvements are less and less. Also a lot of Apple's iPhone growth was due to new markets, new carriers coming on board. That also is slowing down. None of that has to do with aesthetics.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

iPhone 13 Always On Feature

iPhone 13 to Bring Over a Major Feature From the Apple Watch

Wednesday July 28, 2021 2:21 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming iPhone 13 lineup will feature an always-on display akin to the Apple Watch Series 5 and Series 6, according to recent reports. In his weekly Power On newsletter, Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman, who often reveals accurate insights into Apple's plans, said that the iPhone 13 may feature an Apple Watch-inspired always-on mode. The Apple Watch Series 5 and Apple Watch...
REC ASA CODE2016 20160601 205816 2745

Elon Musk Reportedly Demanded to Become Apple CEO as Part of Potential Tesla Acquisition [Update: Musk Denies]

Friday July 30, 2021 9:04 am PDT by
Tesla CEO Elon Musk reportedly once demanded that he be made Apple CEO in a brief discussion of a potential acquisition with Apple's current CEO, Tim Cook. The claim comes in a new book titled "Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk and the Bet of the Century," as reviewed by The Los Angeles Times. According to the book, during a 2016 phone call between Musk and Cook that touched on the possibility of ...
duracell battery bitter coating

Apple Says Don't Buy AirTag Replacement Batteries With Bitter Coating

Wednesday July 28, 2021 11:08 am PDT by
Since AirTags were just released earlier this year and are expected to have a year-long battery life, it may be some time yet before AirTag users need a replacement battery, but when the time comes for a refresh, Apple is warning customers not to buy batteries with a bitter coating. AirTags use coin-shaped CR2032 batteries, which happen to be a size that's easy to swallow. Some battery...
nothing ear 1 buds 1

Nothing 'Ear (1)' True Wireless Earbuds Launch to Take on AirPods Pro With ANC and Unusual Design for $99

Tuesday July 27, 2021 7:57 am PDT by
Nothing, a new brand from OnePlus founder Carl Pei, has today officially launched the "Ear (1)" true wireless earbuds after months of anticipation around the company's AirPods Pro rival. The Ear (1) features an in-ear design, Active Noise Cancelation, Bluetooth 5.2, IPX4 water resistance, and a charging case with Qi-compatible wireless charging and a USB-C port. Fast pairing is supported on...
General Apps Messages

Android iMessage Competitor Puts Pressure on Apple

Friday July 30, 2021 3:15 am PDT by
Google and the three major U.S. carriers, including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, will all support a new communications protocol on Android smartphones starting in 2022, a move that puts pressure on Apple to adopt a new cross-platform messaging standard and may present a challenge to iMessage. Verizon recently announced that it is planning to adopt Messages by Google as its default messaging...
Apple Leak Feature

Apple Demands Leaker Reveals Sources Under Threat of Being Reported to Police

Wednesday July 28, 2021 6:53 am PDT by
Apple has sent a cease and desist letter to a leaker based in China as part of its continuing attempts to curtail leaks of unreleased products, according to Vice. A Chinese citizen who shared images of stolen Apple prototypes on social media was sent a warning letter from Fangda Partners, Apple's law firm in China, on June 18, 2021. An extract from the letter read:You have disclosed without ...
apple rtp land

Apple Preparing to Occupy 200,000 Square Feet of Temporary Space Ahead of New $1 Billion North Carolina Campus

Thursday July 29, 2021 9:14 am PDT by
Back in April, Apple announced a $430 billion investment over the next five years to create more than 20,000 new jobs as the company continues to expand. One significant piece of that plan is a new engineering and research center in North Carolina where Apple will be investing over $1 billion and hiring at least 3,000 employees. Assemblage of seven properties in Research Triangle Park owned by ...
iOS 15 General Feature Purple

Everything New in iOS 15 Beta 4: Safari Tweaks, MagSafe Battery Pack Support, Notification Updates and More

Tuesday July 27, 2021 11:47 am PDT by
Apple today released the fourth betas of iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, introducing additional refinements to the new features that are coming in the software updates. In these betas, Apple has introduced changes for Safari, Notifications, Focus mode, and more. Safari Updates Apple is continuing to refine the design of Safari on the iPhone, and in iOS 15, there are tweaks to improve usability. ...
new m1 chip

Tim Cook on Apple Deciding to Manufacture Components: 'We Ask Ourselves If We Can Do Something Better'

Tuesday July 27, 2021 3:04 pm PDT by
During today's earnings call for the third fiscal quarter of 2021 (second calendar quarter), Apple CEO Tim Cook was asked how Apple decides what components to purchase and what components to develop, and Cook said that Apple asks if it can be done better. We ask ourselves if we can do something better. If we can deliver a better product. If we can buy something in the market and it's great...
a15 chip

iPhone 13 and Redesigned MacBook Pro Chip Production Hit With Gas Contamination

Friday July 30, 2021 5:44 am PDT by
The most important TSMC factory that manufactures Apple's chips destined for next-generation iPhone and Mac models has been hit by a gas contamination, according to Nikkei Asia. The factory, known as "Fab 18," is TSMC's most advanced chipmaking facility. TSMC is Apple's sole chip supplier, making all of the processors used in every Apple device with a custom silicon chip. Industry...