The Amazon Echo is a voice-enabled speaker that works through voice controls. It was created to blend into a smart home in order to provide the option to set tasks, alarms and even play music. Now the rumour mill is turning yet again around Apple's developments within the area - specifically if Apple will release a Siri-enabled speaker to its product line-up.
Here's the latest speculations and rumours on 'Apple Home'.
Update 22 February 2017: A new report from Time claims that Apple has no plans to build a Siri speaker after all, and wants to keep Siri entirely virtual - Read more
Apple Home name: What will the new speaker be called?
As you can imagine, there's a wide variety of names that could be used, here are a few to contemplate:
- Apple Home
- Beats Home
- Siri Home
- Siri Speaker
These rumoured and speculative names are taken from around the web and some are created by ourselves at Macworld. Based on previous products and Apple's acquisition of Beats, the audio company, there are a variety of names that Apple could use.
It should be noted that some names such as iHome and iSpeaker already exist through other branded products, so we presume that if Apple were to release a new product they would call it the Siri Speaker or Apple Home. This goes in line with Amazon and Google's naming schemes, where we would expect Apple to follow suit.
Also read: 60 funny things to ask Siri on iPhone, iPad
Currently there's no confirmed date, nor even a hint by Apple around the subject of a Siri-enabled speaker. Given Apple's WWDC 2016 conference, when they opened Siri to third-party developers, we could see the use of Siri SDK in an upcoming speaker.
Given the timing and release date of previous hardware, we would expect Apple to launch Apple Home at an event in March 2017, or later in the year at WWDC 2017.
However, some reports have cast doubt on Apple's plans for a smart speaker device. Writing in Time, Tim Bajarin said that "After talking with Apple executives, I've come away with the impression that they're more interested in turning Siri into an omnipresent AI assistant across devices, rather than designing a single device specifically to serve as a Siri machine."
He argued Apple was more interested in expanding Siri support across multiple devices, citing the AirPods as an example, and in using Siri as a virtual control hub for an array of different smart home devices.
Read next: Siri for Mac release date
Apple Home UK price rumours: How much will Apple Home cost?
Apple have to be competitive, and will most likely price their product close to the Amazon Echo and Google Home. The Echo is priced at £149.99/$179.99, with the cheaper Echo Dot available for £49.99/$49.99, while Google Home is currently only available in the U.S. for $129.
With that in mind, we'd expect an Apple Home device to cost around £150/$180.
Apple Home specification rumours: What to expect from Apple Home?
There are lots of features that Apple could incorporate, from a powerful speaker with Bluetooth aptX technology for high-fidelity music playback, to multiple smart connectors and lightning port adapters for charging your iOS device.
Currently, there are no confirmed specifications nor any supply-chain leaks that we can share with you, but we can predict what we think the specifications could look like:
- A tall speaker with different colours options: Silver, Gold, Space Grey, Rose Gold and White
- Light indicator on the speaker
- Buttons to control volume, mute and basic Siri controls
- Powerful 2x 10Watt speakers
- Bluetooth 4.1 with aptX, A2DP and AAC codec support
- 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz Wi-Fi compatibility, with 802.11a/b/g/n/ac networks
- Two USB and Smart Connector ports for charging iOS devices
- FM/AM/DAB radio capabilities
- 1.5Kg weight
- 3yrs warranty
With these specs, we would expect the speaker to be able to work with a vast array of iOS and Mac devices. Apple Home would also have the ability to work with first and third-party apps, such as Spotify, Apple Music and even Google Calendar.
The app support will really depend on individual developers, but the possibilities at this stage are endless. There are even rumours that might suggest a built-in camera, so that could can FaceTime directly from your Apple Home device!
We will update this article as soon as we know more information on Apple Home. Let us know in the comments below if you think these speculations are accurate or outlandish.