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Apple’s Siri-based Echo competitor could launch next month

Photo via Janitors/Flickr (CC-BY)

Apple is reportedly working on a high-end smart home speaker.

While we wait on Apple’s long-gestating self-driving car tech and AR developments, there’s one rumored product we may see very soon: a Siri-powered speaker.

According to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, we could see “Apple’s first home AI product” debut at the company’s annual developer conference, WWDC, in June in San Jose, California. However, sales likely wouldn’t start until later this year.

This product will reportedly be a high-end speaker, much like the Amazon Echo, and a “Siri/AirPlay device” that will look similar to the cylindrical, minimalist Mac Pro. Inside, it’s rumored to incorporate Beats technology and run a variant of iOS.

Apple’s Siri speaker was first reported to be in development early last summer. However, while Apple hasn’t offered a dedicated smart home living room companion (like Amazon’s Echo products), Apple TV owners have had a limited version of Siri in their living rooms since 2015. On top of that, Apple introduced the “Hey Siri” command with iOS 9. This lets you ask Siri questions, use her to play music, or use her to control connected HomeKit devices in your home—your phone just needs to be within listening range. And with iOS 10, Apple further opened up Siri to developers to expand on her utility.

It’s unclear how Siri’s abilities compare to Alexa’s 10,000 skills (although, clearly, both value the fun of hidden Easter eggs). With a speaker though, Apple could certainly introduce new use cases for the virtual assistant. Maybe, like Alexa, Siri will hasten our purchases of items on iTunes, for example. And being tapped into the greater Apple ecosystem, perhaps Siri would be able to offer more productivity-targeted benefits than Amazon’s Echo does. With Beats technology inside though, music will almost definitely be a primary focus of the speaker.

H/T the Verge

Christina Bonnington

Christina Bonnington

Christina Bonnington is a tech reporter who specializes in consumer gadgets, apps, and the trends shaping the technology industry. Her work has also appeared in Gizmodo, Wired, Refinery29, Slate, Bicycling, and Outside Magazine. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and has a background in electrical engineering.