By the end of the year, Apple will have a Siri Speaker to compete against Amazon Echo and Google Home.
According to a new report from Bloomberg, Apple has started overseas production of its Siri-enabled smart speaker. Apple could unveil this highly-anticipated Siri Speaker onstage during the WWDC keynote taking place on Monday, June 5, but the all-new device won’t be ready to ship until later this year.
The Siri Speaker has been designed to compete against the Amazon Echo and Google Home. To differentiate itself from those other products, the Apple smart speaker will boast virtual surround sound and will be more seamlessly integrated with Apple products and services, like Apple Music. In addition, the Siri Speaker will give Apple users a new hub for controlling HomeKit-enabled devices around their home.
Bloomberg also revealed that Apple won’t integrate a screen in its first iteration of the Siri Speaker. Earlier this month, Apple’s senior V.P. of Marketing Phil Schiller said that he wasn’t a fan of Amazon Echo or Google Home because they lacked screens. Days later, Amazon introduced Echo Show, a version of its flagship smart speaker with a touchscreen.
The Siri Speaker is being produced by Inventec, the Taipei-based manufacturer already responsible for making the wireless AirPods. According to Bloomberg, the Siri Speaker has been in development for a long time, reaching the advanced prototype stage late last year. For several months now, Apple employees have been secretly testing the device in their own homes.
Why this matters: Apple is banking on a smart speaker with superior sound quality and deeper ties to the Apple ecosystem. Those two features seem certain, given the Beats ownership and the new W1 chip that can pair devices seamlessly. In addition, the Siri Speaker could include sensors to measure indoor acoustics and automatically adjust audio levels.
But will that be enough to make the Siri Speaker a must-have? Amazon is already ahead in bringing third-party apps to its Alexa-powered Echo devices, even Apple services like iCloud calendar are being brought to the fold. Meanwhile, Google has recently made its AI assistant available on iOS, pointing out some serious Siri fails. And HomeKit devices can already be operated using an iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV.