Apple VP Phil Schiller Implies Voice-Activated Smart Speakers Could Benefit From a Screen

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Gadgets 360 published an interview with Apple SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller this week that could shed some light on Apple's plans for a dedicated Siri-based voice-assistant for the home. Rumors have swirled in recent weeks about Apple's plans to unveil an Amazon Echo-like smart connected speaker, possibly as early as WWDC in June, so Schiller's thoughts on the topic could potentially relate to the way Apple is approaching the design of its Echo rival.

During the interview, Schiller demurred when asked what he thought about Amazon's Echo and Google Home, but his comments clearly imply that the two speakers leave a lot to be desired: "My mother used to have a saying that if you don't have something nice to say, say nothing at all." More revealingly perhaps, Schiller took pains to distinguish between different usage scenarios for voice assistants: handsfree, such as while driving, when simple voice-activation is convenient - but limited - and most other occasions when the availability of a screen is preferred.

"We think it's important that there are times when it's convenient to simply use your voice when you are not able to use the screen," said Schiller. "For example, if you're driving [and] you want Siri to work for you without having to look at the screen, that's the best thing. Or maybe you're across the room, and you want to ask Siri to change the song you're listening to."

So there's many moments where a voice assistant is really beneficial, but that doesn't mean you'd never want a screen. So the idea of not having a screen, I don't think suits many situations. For example if I'm looking for directions and I'm using Maps, Siri can tell me those directions by voice and that's really convenient but it's even better if I can see that map, and I can see what turns are coming up, and I can see where there is congestion, I understand better my route, and what I'm going to do.
Schiller continued his argument for voice assistants with screens using the example of photography and photo sharing. "With all the social networking apps that are now embracing photos more and more, well, it doesn't work really so great in voice-only assistants," said Schiller. The same goes for games, he said, calling them the "biggest category of all".
I have yet to see any voice-only games that, for me, are nearly as fun as the one that I play on my screen. And so I think voice assistants are incredibly powerful, their intelligence is going to grow, they're gonna do more for us, but the role of the screen is gonna remain very important to all of this.
Schiller ended his comments on the topic by calling the dual role of voice-assistants "an interesting discussion", especially with respect to "when each is appropriate, and what they can do in our lives".

It's unclear how Schiller's comments fit in with the recent uptick in rumors that Apple is working on a Siri-based smart speaker for the home. Often-reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities has said the product will double up as an AirPlay speaker and feature a custom W1 Bluetooth chip for easy pairing, while Sonny Dickson has suggested the device will run a variation of iOS and have a Mac Pro-like concave top with built-in controls. However, none have claimed Apple is working to integrate a screen into the device.

By contrast, recent alleged leaks have suggested Amazon's next-generation Echo could have a built-in touchscreen and camera with the potential to support phone and video calls.

In the Gadgets 360 interview quoted from above, Schiller also spoke about other topics, including Apple's Swift programming language, and the company's app subscription model as it relates to developers and users of the App Store. You can read the full interview here.

Article Link: Apple VP Phil Schiller Implies Voice-Activated Smart Speakers Could Benefit From a Screen
 
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swingerofbirch

macrumors 68040
A display doesn't make sense on Google Home/Alexa type devices. If you're close enough to use a display, it's not really an omnipresent house wide product and you might as well use a phone. If it's connected to a TV, that's still fairly limited.

I don't think these comments imply Apple would make a device like Alexa with a screen. He said that a screen makes sense in certain situations. For an omnipresent household device I don't see how a screen makes sense unless it's somehow magically projecting things in front of you from wherever you are.
 

Aston441

macrumors 68000
Sep 16, 2014
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Well of course. How else could Siri show me Some Results I Found On The Web because she is a brain damaged retard and can't do anything besides Bing searches?

Alexa stands on her own.

Siri will need to be supported by a big (expensive) screen or she'll fall down. I'm feeling a thick $499 iPad with a big speaker coming on here lol!
 

Chupa Chupa

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Jul 16, 2002
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Is there new information here? iDevices have screens. CarPlay has a screen. ATV4 is connected to a screen. Macs have, or are connected to, a screen.

If there is an allusion to an Apple smart speaker here I don't see it. But if it's buried in there, let Apple make whatever device it thinks we need and we'll see if we need it. As a HomeKit adopter though what I want is a smarter Siri and an Apple version of a low cost Echo Dot I can litter the home with. As of now nothing Schiller says makes me want a video Echo. I have an iPad for that. It also sounds expensive, again no thanks, not what I'm looking for.
 

WatchFromAfar

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Siri will need to be supported by a big (expensive) screen or she'll fall down. I'm feeling a thick $499 iPad with a big speaker coming on here lol!
Isn't Siri with a screen just literally every computing device Apple currently sells? By providing a screen Apple would be admitting that their voice technology isn't good enough to compete and if that's the case they should forget the idea altogether and leave it to those who believe they can make voice only interaction a viable solution.
 

xnu

macrumors 6502
Jul 15, 2004
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So a phone. Make a phone. Siri with a screen.

Fix Siri, no screen. Or maybe it will be the second product we can use the Apple Pencil with.
 
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Jason_G

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Feb 24, 2009
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Could he be implying that the results of a query to a Siri-based voice-assistant for the home, are handed off to the user's iDevice screen?
 
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Porco

macrumors 68040
Mar 28, 2005
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If they'd they kept the iPod Hi-Fi around another decade they could have just changed the internals and dock connector and be done!

(I'm only half-joking...)
 

BruceEBonus

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Sep 23, 2007
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2017 really IS the POGO (Put Out Or Get Out) year for Apple.

A LOT of smoke and mirrors last year and this year and diversionary tactics employed.

Samsung have sold and are outselling the iPhone. Google is winning the AI war. MS winning the laptop war and Apple still having a go with their old iPads. But with tablet sales falling globally and Apple neglecting their original Mac market - 2017 has to be their year to prove they've not gone laz(ier) and actually bring something out that will make them stand out from the competition instead of just charity meals and RED paint schemes. Their shares keep rising despite years of stagnation. Will the name and glory years hold out on that alone? I say not. 2017 - Apple's POGO year. You read it here first.

("Yeah, right. Gerroff!"-MR Ed.)
 

Pagemakers

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I have 5 Echo's in my house. It's good but limited. When you ask for train times for example and it reels on 5 it's difficult to remember the reply. So for me Echo with a screen makes perfect sense and if it materialises I for one will be upgrading.
 

jonnysods

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Don't go into this market Phil...

Also Siri is a pain at the best of times. I think they need to adjust their privacy policy to at least collect data so they learn about each user. Not sell the data, keep it and learn. Give me the option of turning that on or off.

One massive gripe is not being able to use Siri to skip songs on my AirPods if I have no internet connection. That's nuts.
[doublepost=1494073779][/doublepost]Also if I have my phone, iPad close by or my watch on and I yell out "hey Siri", how is that going to work out?
 

StoneJack

macrumors 65816
Dec 19, 2009
1,112
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2017 really IS the POGO (Put Out Or Get Out) year for Apple.

A LOT of smoke and mirrors last year and this year and diversionary tactics employed.

Samsung have sold and are outselling the iPhone. Google is winning the AI war. MS winning the laptop war and Apple still having a go with their old iPads. But with tablet sales falling globally and Apple neglecting their original Mac market - 2017 has to be their year to prove they've not gone laz(ier) and actually bring something out that will make them stand out from the competition instead of just charity meals and RED paint schemes. Their shares keep rising despite years of stagnation. Will the name and glory years hold out on that alone? I say not. 2017 - Apple's POGO year. You read it here first.

("Yeah, right. Gerroff!"-MR Ed.)
Samsung Galaxy is not outselling Apple and MS is not winning laptop wars, you might want to check facts, feel free to google.
 

iSee

macrumors 68040
Oct 25, 2004
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...Apple's POGO year. You read it here first.

("Yeah, right. Gerroff!"-MR Ed.)
Actually, people have never stopped saying this. ;)

I think Schiller means their home smart speaker will be tightly integrated with your phone or iPad. You'll be able to start the "conversation" by speaking to the speaker and finish is -- seemlessly -- on your iDevice. From Phil's example, you'll see the map of the route you were talking about or see the photos you asked for.

By the way, one main reason Siri sucks sometimes isn't Siri itself, it's the mic. Hopefully, a smart speaker could solve that part of it.
 
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fischersd

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Oct 23, 2014
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I've said it before, saying it again - the ATV4 had enough horsepower to be the hub for home automation. Add to that, that they could easily have done grid computing with all of your Apple devices in your home - the more you buy into the ecosystem, the more intelligent your assistant will be. (could have built that into iTunes to snag CPU cycles from your Windoze boxes too).

Why Apple didn't snag the guys that created Siri and keep them in house so they could continue to evolve it?! They're too far behind now...
 

mixy

macrumors newbie
Apr 9, 2012
5
4
Imagine this - a smart speaker that is connected via iCloud to all of your other Apple devices (AirPods already do that). So if a result of your voice query requires a visual, it can deliver it to any of your other Apple devices with a screen in your proximity. If you are in your living room, that can be your TV (via Apple TV) or your iMac, the iPad in your kitchen can display a recipe or your iPhone can display directions as you leave your home. The next level of continuity + really leveraging the ecosystem. And no need for yet another device with a dedicated screen, when all your other devices already have one.
 
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