Apple 'Pressing Ahead' Into Prototype Testing for Echo-Like Smart Home Device Powered by Siri

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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Apple is said to be "stepping up plans" for its connected smart home device powered by Siri, which would rival the technology that Amazon has made popular in its Alexa-enabled Echo speaker system (via Bloomberg). After two years of research and development, the Apple device is said to be in prototype testing, but because Apple hasn't officially finalized any plans it "could still scrap the project."

Similar to Echo, the Siri device is said to be able to control smart home accessories like lights, locks, and curtains all through voice activation, and would most notably be the first new piece of Apple hardware introduced since the Apple Watch, and the iPad before that. To compete with Amazon -- and Google's own similar device called "Google Home" -- Apple will introduce "more advanced microphone and speaker technology," according to people close to the project. This could potentially include an ecosystem-wide upgrade to Siri's current functionality.

Beyond the home device, Apple is researching new ways to improve Siri on iPhones and iPads, two people said. With an initiative code-named "Invisible Hand," Apple hopes to give users the ability to fully control their devices through a Siri command system within three years, one of the people added. Currently, the voice assistant is able to respond to commands within its application, but Apple's goal is for Siri to be able to control the entire system without having to open an app or reactivate Siri.

For example, a user would be able to ask their iPhone to open a web page and then share it with a friend without the need to ever launch the Siri interface. Other examples from Apple's current research include being able to print a PDF by speaking "print" while reading it or saying "help" in order for the system to help the user navigate a particular task or application. Apple has also been researching opening this ability to third-party apps, the person said.
A few prototypes in testing are said to include technology related to facial recognition, potentially fueled by Apple's acquisition of Faceshift and Emotient, "which may help the device act based on who is in a room or a person's emotional state." Otherwise, the device will be able to perform all of the Siri actions expected of the personal assistant, including responding to text messages, playing music, searching the internet, and more. Apple Maps integration is a possibility, which Apple is considering so Siri could alert you exactly when to leave the house for an appointment.

Before it moved to a standalone speaker unit, Apple considered introducing Siri into a voice-activated feature on the new Apple TV, but the company decided on a more reliable button addition to the Apple TV remote over shouting commands across a room to activate Siri. In its original testing in 2014, Apple crafted a small and a large version of the Siri speaker, said to be like the Amazon Echo and Amazon Echo Dot, "but those early efforts may not translate into a final product."

The prototype phase has advanced to the point of Apple engineers testing the device in their own homes, according to the individuals with knowledge of the project. As Bloomberg pointed out, while this is not an exact measure of when the Siri speaker might launch, Apple CEO Tim Cook was known to test out the original iPad at his home "for roughly six months before its introduction." Apple employees also tested out the fourth-generation Apple TV about a year before its launch in 2015.

Ultimately, the Siri speaker is described as a way for Apple to "augment the iPhone," and drive sales for the company's devices following a year where it faced dwindling returns for its iPhone line. Its most recent device launches for the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, and Apple Watch Series 2 have all faced the expected initial shortages most Apple products encounter in their first few weeks on the market, but Apple has chosen not to reveal first weekend sales numbers for the iPhone 7 because it feels the results are "no longer a representative metric" due to demand outweighing supply.

Article Link: Apple 'Pressing Ahead' Into Prototype Testing for Echo-Like Smart Home Device Powered by Siri
 

Alchemist

macrumors regular
Dec 22, 2004
125
55
UK
I'd really like to see Apple build one of these or possibly integrate the functionality directly into an AppleTV. I'm trying to go down the smart home route and the Echo is quite compelling. I want motion sensing as well as voice control so that lights can intelligently turn on as I move around.
 

pollaxe

macrumors 6502
Aug 13, 2010
267
41
West of England
This could be interesting... I've got an Amazon Echo Dot on pre-order but I've been getting privacy-related cold feet over it.

I wonder if this is the Apple Iris (Siri reversed) thing someone spotted a patent or trademark application for?

(edit added trademark as I can't remember the exact context in which it was mentioned.)
 

smacrumon

macrumors 68030
Jan 15, 2016
2,683
3,934
This feature could be built into current devices. Why does anyone need a separate device? It could be built into Apple TV, iMac, Mac mini, it could, surprise, surprise, be built into iPhone! Apple doesn't need to follow the fads. This Amazon device will be in the e-waste landfill soon enough.

As for the quote:

"Ultimately, the Siri speaker is described as a way for Apple to "augment the iPhone," and drive sales for the company's devices following a year where it faced dwindling returns for its iPhone line."

The best way to face dwindling returns on the iPhone line could easily be resolved by introducing an
ALL-NEW iPhone, in all three sizes 4-inch, 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch sizes, dropping the protruding camera and finally dropping the antenna lines.

Apple needs to get back to making great iPhones, not shiny third generation iPhone 6 models.
 
Last edited:

TigerWoodsIV

macrumors 6502a
Apr 3, 2010
576
415
Would be sill to scrap it now I imagine. Amazon needs a legit competitor asap. The market is only growing.
 

peteullo

macrumors regular
Dec 13, 2009
232
25
Scranton, PA



Apple is said to be "stepping up plans" for its connected smart home device powered by Siri, which would rival the technology that Amazon has made popular in its Alexa-enabled Echo speaker system (via Bloomberg). After two years of research and development, the Apple device is said to be in prototype testing, but because Apple hasn't officially finalized any plans it "could still scrap the project."

Similar to Echo, the Siri device is said to be able to control smart home accessories like lights, locks, and curtains all through voice activation, and would most notably be the first new piece of Apple hardware introduced since the Apple Watch, and the iPad before that. To compete with Amazon -- and Google's own similar device called "Google Home" -- Apple will introduce "more advanced microphone and speaker technology," according to people close to the project. This could potentially include an ecosystem-wide upgrade to Siri's current functionality.

A few prototypes in testing are said to include technology related to facial recognition, potentially fueled by Apple's acquisition of Faceshift and Emotient, "which may help the device act based on who is in a room or a person's emotional state." Otherwise, the device will be able to perform all of the Siri actions expected of the personal assistant, including responding to text messages, playing music, searching the internet, and more. Apple Maps integration is a possibility, which Apple is considering so Siri could alert you exactly when to leave the house for an appointment.

Before it moved to a standalone speaker unit, Apple considered introducing Siri into a voice-activated feature on the new Apple TV, but the company decided on a more reliable button addition to the Apple TV remote over shouting commands across a room to activate Siri. In its original testing in 2014, Apple crafted a small and a large version of the Siri speaker, said to be like the Amazon Echo and Amazon Echo Dot, "but those early efforts may not translate into a final product."

The prototype phase has advanced to the point of Apple engineers testing the device in their own homes, according to the individuals with knowledge of the project. As Bloomberg pointed out, while this is not an exact measure of when the Siri speaker might launch, Apple CEO Tim Cook was known to test out the original iPad at his home "for roughly six months before its introduction." Apple employees also tested out the fourth-generation Apple TV about a year before its launch in 2015.

Ultimately, the Siri speaker is described as a way for Apple to "augment the iPhone," and drive sales for the company's devices following a year where it faced dwindling returns for its iPhone line. Its most recent device launches for the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, and Apple Watch Series 2 have all faced the expected initial shortages most Apple products encounter in their first few weeks on the market, but Apple has chosen not to reveal first weekend sales numbers for the iPhone 7 because it feels the results are "no longer a representative metric" due to demand outweighing supply.

Article Link: Apple 'Pressing Ahead' Into Prototype Testing for Echo-Like Smart Home Device Powered by Siri
[doublepost=1474636430][/doublepost]I hope it looks just like this...
 

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sshambles

macrumors 6502a
Oct 19, 2005
720
889
Australia
The Amazon Echo might not have sold much, but a Siri-centric device would definitely be worth selling. Would replace whatever Beats pill thing they currently have, as a portable speaker, and no doubt would sell well - especially with Ive's design of it.
 

SandboxGeneral

Moderator emeritus
Sep 8, 2010
25,752
8,689
Detroit
I've been mildly tempted to try the Echo, but I don't know if I'd get as much practical use out of it for the price. I'll be interested to see what/if Apple comes out with a similar device that would integrate into my iOS and macOS devices and if I could find a way to make good use of it. That is, as long as it's reasonable priced and I don't have to press a button to activate it.. *cough, cough, Siri on macOS cough*.
 
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vertical smile

macrumors 601
Sep 23, 2014
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A few prototypes in testing are said to include technology related to facial recognition, potentially fueled by Apple's acquisition of Faceshift and Emotient, "which may help the device act based on who is in a room or a person's emotional state."
Like the scene from the movie Antitrust with the mood reflecting artwork? Cool, this would be interesting.


Similar to Echo, the Siri device is said to be able to control smart home accessories like lights, locks, and curtains all through voice activation,
Wasn't there an article a while back saying that the ATV was going to have a similar capability?

What happened to that? Apple seems to be leading from behind lately.
 

apolloa

Suspended
Oct 21, 2008
12,318
7,762
Time, because it rules EVERYTHING!
This could be interesting... I've got an Amazon Echo Dot on pre-order but I've been getting privacy-related cold feet over it.

I wonder if this is the Apple Iris (Siri reversed) thing someone spotted a patent or trademark application for?

(edit added trademark as I can't remember the exact context in which it was mentioned.)
You must wear one HUGE tin foil hat! But don't worry I'm sure Amazon will enjoy recording and analysing with a fine tooth comb every single thing you say to your Echo :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:
 

zstern702

macrumors member
Sep 26, 2010
33
2
would really like to see apple "press ahead" with meeting the supply demands of the new products they have brought to market.
 

0958400

Suspended
Jul 20, 2011
401
716
Oh great, Siri will comment then on my lifestyle and what I do: "but, but Pentido"
and half the time it won't understand the things I say. Except when I start to swear at it, because it's so bad...
 
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acctman

macrumors 65816
Oct 26, 2012
1,147
697
Georgia
do people even stop to think for a second before they put out rumors like... "facial recognitions". The room you're entering would always have to be well lit and or some really advance NSA style facial recognition processing going on. Not to mentioning having to capture from a moving target at a distance.