It’s long been rumored that Apple is working on a competitor to Amazon’s Echo platform and Google Home in the form of a so-called Siri Speaker. While WWDC has been a software-only event in recent years, it appears that might change with this year’s keynote and Siri Speaker.
With Siri Speaker rumored to be unveiled next month, it’s time to take a step back and look at everything we’ve heard about the device at this point…
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Apple’s efforts to build a standalone Siri hardware device were first reported back in May 2016. The device at the time was said to be marketed as a high-end alternative to the Google Home and Amazon Echo. Like with most rumors, expectations and details regarding the Siri Speaker have changed as time has progressed. For instance, it was at one point reported that the Apple TV would be the center point of Siri Speaker, but more recent reports have pegged the device as a truly standalone hardware product.
- Report: Apple planning Siri SDK for WWDC as it builds Amazon Echo/Google Home hardware competitor
- Report: Apple TV could be home for rumored Amazon Echo-like Siri speaker
All in all, up until recently not much was known about Siri Speaker. It was essentially just a long-standing rumor without any details backing it up, but that changed early this year as more information started to emerge.
A Bloomberg report last September arguably kick-started the focus on Siri Speaker. The report claimed that Apple was in the process of testing the device in employee homes after following a two-year research and development period. Bloomberg also shot down those rumors of the Siri Speaker being baked into the Apple TV.
- Apple’s rumored Siri-powered Amazon Echo competitor now in prototype testing – Bloomberg
- Report: Apple’s rumored Amazon Echo-like Siri speaker may feature facial recognition cameras
Jump forward to 2017, Twitter leaker Sonny Dickson last month took to the social media platform to reveal a handful of details about Siri Speaker. Dickson stated that the Siri Speaker will offer some form of Beats technology underneath the hood, while also noting that it will run a variant of iOS. In terms of design, he pointed to a meld between the Mac Pro and UE Boom as a good example of Apple’s design.
While Dickson’s report was met with skepticism at the start, it was quickly corroborated by reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities. Kuo noted in an investor report that Siri Speaker will be positioned as a “high-end Amazon Echo competitor,” with one of its biggest selling points being “excellent” sound quality. The analyst explained that Siri Speaker will feature seven tweeters and a subwoofer, though it’s still unclear if there will be any user-facing Beats branding.
- Rumor: ‘Siri Speaker’ Amazon Echo competitor could see WWDC debut with Mac Pro style
- KGI: Apple likely to announce ‘home AI’ Siri Speaker at WWDC, positioned as high-end Amazon Echo competitor
One big question many have about Siri Speaker, however, is whether or not the device will feature a display. While some reports have said it’s uncertain whether or not they’ll be any sort of user interface, others have been more clear. Just this weekend, KGI’s Ming-Chi Kuo released another industry note in which he reiterated much of what he had already said, but also noted that Siri Speaker will include a “touch panel.”
At this point, it’s not explicitly clear what the “touch panel” will offer. It could be similar to the Echo Show, which offers a full touchscreen, or it could be something smaller, perhaps similar to that of the MacBook Pro Touch Bar.
Apple exec Phil Schiller himself came out against the idea of voice-only virtual assistants, so it really doesn’t come as too big of a surprise that Apple’s offering will incorporate some sort of display. Referring to the Amazon Echo and Google home, Schiller said:
Well, I won’t talk to either one specifically, [I] don’t want to. My mother used to have a saying that if you don’t have something nice to say, say nothing at all.
Obviously one hugely important aspect of the Siri Speaker is going to be Siri itself. Arguably, the success of the hardware product depends almost entirely on the improvements Apple brings for Siri. It’s no secret that Apple’s virtual assistant has started to lag behind Amazon’s Alexa and others, but KGI claims that Siri Speaker will be announced alongside “software development details for home AI.”
As for an announcement, both Dickson and KGI have claimed Siri Speaker will see an unveil at Apple’s WWDC event next month, which is somewhat surprising given how the event has been almost exclusively software-focused over recent years. Though, it makes sense seeing how Apple did not hold its usual March hardware event this year.
- KGI: Apple likely to launch 10.5-inch iPad Pro and Siri Speaker at WWDC alongside new software
- Bloomberg: Unclear if Siri Speaker will feature display, Amazon open to Apple Music on Echo
- Phil Schiller says voice-only assistants are sometimes convenient
So, that’s what we currently know about Siri Speaker: a standalone hardware device with a more powerful Siri, a touch interface, hi-fi speakers, and a WWDC unveil. What do you make of all of these rumors? As it stands now, would you purchase a Siri Speaker? Let us know down in the comments.
Other Siri Speaker coverage:
- Opinion: I hope Siri Speaker is more Amazon Echo and less Echo Show
- What feature is a ‘must have’ for you to use Apple’s Siri Speaker? [Poll]
- Siri Speaker Wishlist: hi-fi audio, multi-user control, HomeKit features, more
- Voice-controlled speaker market predicted to double as Apple reportedly works on its plans
- What’s next for Siri: Apple’s advantage for its Echo/Google Home competitor
- Opinion: A Siri Speaker can learn a lot from Amazon’s Echo, but its success really depends on improvements to Siri
- Opinion: Does Apple need to make an Amazon Echo/Google Home speaker, or just make Siri better?