The Worldwide Developer’s Conference in June is normally all about software, but a new report by The Information suggests they will be announcing a new category of hardware. Their new device will be a voice-activated smart home speaker powered by Siri and be a direct competitor to Amazon’s Echo.
The speaker will have the same functions as the Echo, but also be a lot smarter. It will control many of your home’s functions, like adjusting the lighting, with Homekit-compatible hardware and software. It will also house a camera which will detect who is in the room around it using facial recognition technology. The device will use this information to select the person’s preferences like their playlists or favorite music. It will also be activated with special keywords, similar to the iPhone 6s responding to “Hey Siri.”
Apple is expected to have a strategy for announcing and releasing the device similar to they did with the Apple Watch. The smart speaker will likely be announced at some point in 2016, rumored to be at the Worldwide Developer’s Conference, and then released the following year in 2017. The plans for releasing an Echo-like speaker are not yet solid though so the entire project may be postponed or cancelled.
The company is expected to allow Siri to be used in third-party apps with a new software developer kit (SDK) being announced at their conference. While Apple does have deals with some major developers already that integrate Siri into their software, they will open it up to all developers in the future. Right now users can ask Siri to reserve a table for two at a local restaurant and Siri will connect to the OpenTable app. She will then use information from the app to reserve the table. Siri will also display reviews from Yelp, showing integration with that app.