Apple is reportedly finalizing a device that rivals the Amazon Echo and the Google Home voice-activated speakers. Apple’s voice-activated speaker would be powered by Siri and could perform functions like controlling smart-home devices, setting timers and reminders, streaming Apple Music songs and checking weather conditions. Mapping functions may also be built into the device so it can recommend when you should leave home in order to reach a meeting on time. It is also rumored that the voice-activated speaker device will have AirPlay support so you could ask it to stream content or mirror your iOS device to a TV screen.
According to MacRumors, the device is code-named “B238” internally.
AppleInsider also spotted rumors about the design of the device found in a couple of tweets by Mashable’s VP of Content Strategy Jen Ryall, who spoke with credible Apple device leaker Sonny Dickson about it. Dickson heard that Apple’s voice-activated device will likely be concave at the top where the controls will be located. Apple’s voice-activated speaker will also be very round with a speaker mesh covering it all. The speakers built into the device will be based on some of the proprietary technology that was built by Apple subsidiary Beats Electronics. And the software running the device is believed to be a variant of iOS.
More claims from @SonnyDickson on Apple’s Alexa competitor:
– Think Mac Pro style.
– Same style UE boom mesh.
– Possible release WWDC.
— Jen Ryall (@jennijenni) April 28, 2017
In terms of the looks, it will resemble the Mac Pro with some of the similarities we have seen with the UE Boom Bluetooth speaker. And rumor has it that Apple will announce it at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). WWDC is taking place between June 5th and June 9th.
In 2014, Apple started experimenting with voice-activated speakers around when HomeKit was released — which enables smart-home companies to integrate products with Siri. Some of the prototypes also included facial recognition sensors for security and customization purposes. Back then, Apple was testing out smaller and larger sized models. But Dickson said last week that Apple is now “finalizing” the design.
Before Apple decided to create a voice-activated speaker, Bloomberg’s sources said the Cupertino giant also considered integrating voice-activation technology into the Apple TV. However, that plan was scrapped after voice-command features were built into the Apple TV remote in October 2015.
Siri has improved significantly since it launched, but there is always room for improvement. Apple is also researching ways to improve Siri to account for a wide variety of user accents and pronunciations. This would be especially important for voice-activated speakers that could control smart-home devices. Fortunately, Siri is multilingual so it understands variations of languages like Chinese, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian and Spanish.
Alongside the release the of the voice-activated Siri speaker, Apple may provide developers with a Siri SDK. And it seems likely that Apple would create a separate operating system for the speaker’s platform similar to the way tvOS was created for the Apple TV and watchOS was created for the Apple Watch.
Dickson has an outstanding track record when it comes to Apple leaks. For example, he was the first to leak photos of the iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C, iPad mini 2 and iPad 5. And he was the first to release detailed photos of Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint scanner, according to The Monthly. On the software side of things, Dickson also accurately predicted the revamping of the lockscreen interface on iOS 10. Most of his sources are individuals that purchase prototype parts from assembly-line workers.
This is the not only major leak that Dickson presented recently. Dickson also tweeted the alleged schematics of the iPhone 8’s rear-casing last month.
iPhone 8 looks to be taking a new direction pic.twitter.com/mG19bcDYiC
— Sonny Dickson (@SonnyDickson) April 19, 2017
What stands out in the leaked image is that the camera lenses appear to have a vertical dual camera setup rather than the horizontal dual camera setup that the iPhone 7 Plus has. Apple is expected to announce the new line of iPhones in September.