Amazon may have flopped with its attempt to get into the smartphone game with its own Fire Phone, but the company has found a sure-fire hit in its internet-connected Echo smart speaker. Now others a rushing to play catch-up, including Google with its own Home device, and, if rumors are true, Apple has a product brewing that will use Siri to control a home’s lights, appliances, and other connected products.
The latest on a Siri-powered home speaker from Apple comes from Bloomberg, which reports that the product has entered into the prototype testing phase within Cupertino. Believed to have been in development for two years now, the device is said to function similarly to Amazon’s Echo and its Alexa voice assistant; users will communicate with Siri via voice commands, and it will control things like appliances, lights, curtains, locks and more using Apple’s HomeKit tech.
It’s reasonable to believe that a Siri speaker will act as a sort of combination of two features Apple has already released: opening Siri up to developers on both iOS and macOS, and the implementation of voice control on the latest Apple TV via the Siri Remote. In fact, sources told Bloomberg that when the previous Apple TV was in development, there were once plans to outfit it with a speaker that would recognize voice commands spoken from the couch, instead of into a mic on the remote.
While this concept may have been pushed back and turned into a stand-alone speaker, Apple is also said to be planning a feature that will go above and beyond what existing smart speakers have. Namely, a facial-recognition camera that would be used to detect and recognize different users when they enter a room, automatically settings like lights and temperature to their preferences.
Of course, this device is still early in the development cycle, and certain features — or even the whole project itself — could be scrapped altogether. Should the prototype testing turn out successful, however, we’ll no doubt continue hearing about the device in the months to come.