In late May, we reported that Apple was working on a new category of hardware with a Siri-powered smart home speaker. It would be similar to the Amazon’s Echo. According to a new report by Bloomberg, the rumored Siri-powered device is currently undergoing prototype testing.
The rumors indicated the device would have the same functions as the Echo, but be much smarter. It would be capable of controlling your home’s functions like the Home app does on the iPhone and iPad. It will also have a camera which detects who is speaking and their emotional state using facial recognition technology. The speaker will this information to select the person’s preferences like their playlists or enhance the tone of the room. Finally, it will be activated with “Hey Siri.” Hopefully Apple will enhance Siri to be similar in functionality to Microsoft’s Cortana or Amazon’s Alexa.
There are no new rumors to report now, but the product has been in progress for more than two years. The technology was initially considered to be built into the Apple TV, but the company decided against it. They decided it would be best to create an independent speaker instead. This way users are not yelling across the room from their couch to activate Siri.
Engineers are currently testing the prototype speaker in their own homes, which is typical for Apple to do with new devices. Previous devices, like the current Apple TV, were tested for more than a year prior to launch. The iPad was tested for six months by Tim Cook as well. This does not indicate if or when we will see the device, but it is more than a concept now.
Bloomberg reports that the goal of Apple’s future devices is to allow Siri to control the entire system without needing to launch the Siri interface. The voice assistant could be activated with a simple keyword and always stay open for constant control.