Noise about an Apple smart speaker is growing louder, and today a new report suggests the tech giant’s first Siri-powered smart home/audio device could be announced at WWDC 2017.
WWDC, by the way, is Apple’s annual developer conference, where it details the next iteration of its mobile operating system, iOS (in 2017's case, it'll be iOS 11), macOS, watchOS, tvOS and other innovations.
Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst with KGI Securities who regularly makes predictions on Apple's next moves, some of them accurate, said in an industry report (via 9to5Mac (opens in new tab)) that Apple will probably unveil its "first home AI product" at the June event.
The device, which 9to5Mac has dubbed the Siri Speaker, will compete with Amazon Echo, the Alexa-backed speaker from the online retail powerhouse. Apple's product, however, will occupy the higher end of the smart speaker spectrum, Kuo notes, and therefore cost more than the $179/£150 (opens in new tab) (about AU$230) Echo.
We suggest taking Kuo's prediction with a hearty grain of salt, but it would make sense for Apple to announce its Siri-backed smart home device at its major developer conference.
Smart speakers like Echo and utilize third-party extensions to bring more capabilities to their arsenals. And if Apple hopes to create an open ecosystem for the speaker, allowing it to connect to the App Store like the Apple TV does, the iPhone maker will need developer support.
Though Kuo didn't offer an exact release date for Apple's speaker, he predicts it will launch in the second half of the year, which would put it right on time for the holiday shopping season.
We'll venture to guess the speaker's retail launch will fall on or near the iPhone 8 release date as there will probably be an accompanying app to go along with the speaker. According to leaker Sonny Dickson, Apple's "Alexa competitor" is in the final stages of design (opens in new tab).
Apple's speaker won't skimp on sound, Kuo suggests, offering "excellent" audio, seven tweeters and a subwoofer. A knock against Amazon Echo is that its audio prowess leaves much to be desired. Google Home's sound isn't strong, either.
But despite some glaring weaknesses, Echo has spawned other speakers, namely the and Amazon Echo Look, a newly announced device that houses a camera and will before you step out the door.
Depending on how well Apple's smart speaker, also said to have computing powers in its pocket, is received, we could see a whole family of iSpeaker devices, offered in different sizes, styles and price ranges, come to market in the next few years.
Of course, Apple has to get started, and we may only have to wait until next month to see what its first smart speaker step looks like.
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