Is Apple about to get into the smart speaker business? (And no, we're not talking about the iPod Hi-Fi dock from 2006.) Many pundits believe it is, following the success of the Amazon Echo and Google Home. Rumours suggest the Siri-enabled speaker will be able to respond to voice commands and play music (via Beats technology), set alarms, control smart devices and search for information online, and may even run a modified version of iOS.
Here are all the clues, leaks and hints related to Apple's rumoured new smart Siri speaker, including possible names, features, release date and expected UK price. Read next: Siri vs Cortana vs Google Now vs Alexa
What will Apple's Siri speaker be called?
Based on previous products and Apple's acquisition of Beats, the audio company, there's a wide variety of names that could be used. Here are our favourites:
- Apple Home
- Beats Home
- Siri Home
- Siri Speaker
Some names such as iHome and iSpeaker already exist in the form of other company's hardware products; Apple Home, too, is already taken by Apple's smart-home app (which controls appliances that are rated as HomeKit-compatible). It's possible Apple could buy or swap the branding if it thinks one of these names is more suited to this new product, but we think Siri Speaker currently looks most plausible.
Also read: 60 funny things to ask Siri on iPhone, iPad
When will Apple's Siri speaker be released?
We don't know - but there are lots of rumours around WWDC 2017.
Given Apple's WWDC 2016 conference, when the company opened Siri up to third-party developers, we could see the use of Siri SDK in an upcoming speaker. The timing and release date of previous hardware also make it plausible that Apple will announce the speaker at WWDC 2017 in June, with the product itself released later in the year - possibly in September 2017.
Things might be as advanced as that, however. Many pundits believe that Patent 9,651,999, 'Electronic device with radially deployed components', refers to the cylindrical design of the Siri Speaker, but there is usually a lengthy gap between the filing of patents and the launch of the products they refer to. This patent was filed in May 2015 and granted in May 2017. We may have longer to wait, but let's hope not.
Some reports have disputed that Apple plans to launch a smart speaker device at all. Writing in Time, Tim Bajarin said: "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 that 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: How to use Siri on Mac
How much will the Siri speaker cost?
Apple has to be competitive, and will most likely price its 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 £129/$129.
With that in mind, we'd expect an Apple Home device to cost around £150/$180.
What should we expect from the Siri speaker?
While there are rumours regarding a possible reveal date for Apple's Siri speaker, there isn't much about what it'll look like or what it'll feature. Why? According to infamous Apple leaker Sonny Dickson, Apple is only now finalising the designs for its speaker.
Apple is currently finalising designs for their Alexa competitor, expected to be marketed as a Siri/AirPlay device.— Sonny Dickson (@SonnyDickson) April 27, 2017
In addition to the above tweet, Dickson claimed that the speaker may feature some kind of Beats technology following Apple's acquisition of the company in in 2014. He claims that the speaker could also run a modified version of iOS and may even feature a touchscreen, a feature notably missing from the hugely popular Amazon Echo and Google Home.
Amazon recently addressed that though, introducing the Echo Show, a standalone touchscreen station for video calling and handsfree search. This was announced shortly after the Echo Look, a personal style assistant with built in camera. Apple could incorporate either idea into its own product, though a focus on fashion is unlikely.
The Amazon Echo Show
Beyond that, we don't know a lot about Apple's upcoming smart speaker. We assume it'll be much like its competitors and offer voice-based interactions, whether it be an enquiry about the current weather or turning on the HomeKit-enabled lights in the home. Being a speaker, we also imagine music - namely Apple Music and possibly Spotify - will have a huge presence in the speaker.
The app support will really depend on individual developers and Apple's stance on opening up the speaker, but the possibilities at this stage are endless.
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.