Earlier this week a new report surfaced claiming Apple’s long-awaited Siri SDK could appear at this year’s WWDC, adding that Apple has been working on a dedicated Siri speaker similar to Amazon Echo or Google Home. Today VentureBeat reports that a source has indicated that a new version of the Apple TV actually may be Apple’s Amazon Echo and Google Home competitor.
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Ignoring the obvious hardware requirements that would have to be resolved to even make the current Apple TV feasible as a Siri-centric device, VentureBeat’s source indicates that Apple is looking to turn the Apple TV into the “hub of everything”.
In its current state the Apple TV doesn’t seem to be an obvious location for a dedicated Siri speaker, especially considering how most users utilize and store the device. It’s not uncommon to literally hide the Apple TV behind a television or inside a wall-unit cabinet. Making an Apple TV into a “hub of everything” also means Apple would have to solve various hardware and software constraints.
The most obvious that comes to mind is a nearby television’s fan noise and general audio output. The report also noted that this would make speech recognition challenging for the device.
An Apple TV could be an awkward location as even with a far-field microphone installed to the current form factor, the device fit standalone speakers in its current form. Being plugged into HDMI means the Apple TV’s sound is regulated to route to whatever TV/entertainment unit a user has connected. Perhaps an upgraded Airport Express might be a better option as it could double as both a wireless network extender and Siri home interface and already features AUX-out for AirPlay to standard speakers.
A standalone device would most likely be the most probably business decision for Apple. Introducing a new standalone device specific to hub-like interactions means more margins for Apple to go after. The iPhone and iPad saw an 18% and 19%, respectively, year-over-year drop in 2016’s Q2 results. A new product introduction in addition to Apple TV and the rest of the portfolio could help to fill that financial void.