Tim Bajarin, writing for Time magazine, is claiming that Apple may not be building an Amazon Echo rival after all. Instead, he said, the company could be more interested in turning Siri into a ubiquitous feature across its device lineup.

“After talking with Apple executives, I’ve come away with the impression that they’re more interested in turning Siri into an omnipresent artificial assistant across devices, rather than designing a single device specifically to serve as a Siri machine,” he said.

Siri is currently available across iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, Apple Watch, Apple TV and CarPlay. The report states that Apple is also “very interested” in positioning Siri as a control hub for smart home devices via its HomeKit platform.

Bajarin mentions AirPods as an example of Apple’s strategy with Siri.

The W1-outfitted wireless earbuds include a feature that lets you summon the digital assistant by double-tapping one of the earbuds, giving users a hands-free way to get answers to simple questions, navigate, or send text messages.

TUTORIAL: How to use AirPods like a pro

Bajarin believes that Apple’s approach will prove the smarter path in the long run.

He goes on to argue that a personal assistant that’s with you all the time and available across all your devices is better than one tethered down to a single device you would use in your home. “While a fixed-point device like the Echo clearly has its place, it will be an omnipresent platform that wins the AI wars,” he wrote.

Of course, Amazon knows this all too well: they opened up its Alexa personal assistant to developers from automakers to home appliance companies who have created a bunch of interesting apps that extend Echo’s functionality.

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The Information first reported about Apple’s rumored device back in May 2016, claiming it would have a speaker and always-on microphone that people could use to play music, get news headlines, set timers and more.

Soon after, VentureBeat said the rumored accessory could actually be a next-generation Apple TV (said to support 4K video and coming later in 2017). Bloomberg’s September 2016 story asserted that the Echo-like device was in prototype testing.

The family of Amazon Echo devices sold an estimated 11 million units thus far.

Source: Time

  • Agneev Mukherjee

    That’s more like Apple.

  • burge

    I’ve said it before Apple TV with always on Hay Siri with out the controller for the input, Apple doesn’t need a new device because the Apple TV already is the device.

    • That’s actually a good point.

    • I think this would be a bad idea.

      You would have to go grab the remote every time you want to ask SIRI something (and why would you want to when you could just as easily grab your phone?).

      Additionally, unless they built speakers into the AppleTV, if you’re running the audio out via HDMI then you wouldn’t have any audio or visual conformation if your TV is off which could cause some interesting situations to say the least.

      Furthermore if SIRI got triggered during a movie it would be highly annoying to say the least. Having to press the mic button makes it impossible for her to accidentally activate when you’re say… watching WWDC next time and they start talking about advancements to “Hey SIRI” 😛

      • burge

        My comment did say without the remote and Siri could deactivate while playing films and such and then become remote controlled triggered as it is now. And why can’t Apple put a speaker in th next gen ATV ? I didn’t imply it had to be the ATV 4.

      • When you said “Apple doesn’t need a new device because the AppleTV already is the device” I assumed you were talking about the device as-is. Obviously if they redesigned it with microphones and speakers and new tech that could alleviate some of the issues that I raised, but at that point it’s kind of a new product.

        But does that mean I need an AppleTV for every room I want to have SIRI in? Let’s say that means I need 4, at the current price that’s $600 for what? Not having to pull out my phone, press Command + Space, raise my wrist, tap my ear, press the mic button on my remote or just say Hey SIRI (depending on the product(s) owned)?

        To me it makes far more sense IMHO to make SIRI on the products already within reach/earshot more capable and to not waste the time or resources on another device that just duplicates functionality.

      • burge

        But Amazon only have the echo they don’t have a phone that it’s sort of competing against. The ATV 5 wouldn’t be a new device as such it would just be the next gen device. Just like it is now when a new product is made except it will have better interaction. Your phone could even possibly have Siri interactions with the ATV 5 so you wouldn’t need a device in every room just your phone with you. The possibilities are endless it’s just people’s imagination that’s holding things back.

      • Actually Amazon has does have a smartphone called the fire phone. But I think that proves just how small the market is 😛

        So you said that “the possibilities are endless, it’s just people’s imagination that’s holding things back”. Help me out then, what can a device like Amazon Echo, Google Home or the rumored Apple alternative do that couldn’t be done via a phone? Essentially both devices act as hardware that bridges voice commands with Apple’s servers. To me it seems then that there is 0 reason that an iPhone couldn’t do 100% of the stuff that a dedicated SIRI box could. Furthermore since the phone is untethered and has a screen it has inherent advantages over the screenless tethered boxes.

        Why not just improve SIRI on the phone? What advantage does the box have over the phone that can not be achieved without it? About the only thing I can think of is that maybe it has a better built in speaker?

        If Apple was going to add this functionality to one device the WiFi base stations probably would have been the best since you would already have them scattered around the house, were already networked together and connected to the internet, and could act as AirPlay audio stations (although it required external speakers). But Apple discontinued this product line. Again, I wouldn’t see the point, but it would seem to me that the most natural product to receive it no longer exists.

      • burge

        Your logic is based on everyone having an iPhone.

      • You are correct. I assume that people who would specifically want a SIRI integrated box would likely be Apple users already since their products are known for tight integration and closed eco systems. And not only that, right or wrong, the general consensus is that SIRI is falling behind the other assistants making it even more unlikely that others outside that ecosystem would go out of their way to buy her.

        And that poses the immediate problem for me. If non Apple users are unlikely to buy it, and it offers 0 additional capabilities to existing Apple users, then who exactly is the target audience for this device? Every product to me has to have a clear reason to justify its existence and while there could be a very good one, I’m just not aware of it.

      • burge

        I’ve got a fire stick does that mean I’m an android user ? I’ve also got the ATV2 and AT4 and yes I’ve purchased in to the Apple brand with a MBA and the iPhone, whilst it’s going to be mainly Apple uses that would purchase this it’s only going to be an add on to your other apple products. But with more input Siri will only get better for end users. What was Siri like on the i4s and look how much Siri has progressed to where it is now. If Apple did make such a device i for one will be purchasing it as Apple will only make Siri integration better as they have done over the years. But Apple really do need to step up with Siri to make it a lot better and only time will tell and they do have the capabilities to do this.

      • I think we are getting off topic. The question is still, what justifies this type of products existence for Apple? What can it can do that a smartphone’s assistant can’t? If the answer is nothing why should I buy it?

        What does it contribute and who it the target audience? Those are the first two questions that any product has to answer and I haven’t seen any good reasons given to date pertaining to either question.

      • burge

        It works directly on your TV to bring you watchable content your phone doesn’t do that out of the box. And if the target audience is not there why did Amazon decide to pursue this endeavour, And Apples target audience is everybody who already has an Apple TV and people don’t have it. Who was Amazons target audience ?

      • Well I think we’ve now come full circle. As I have stated before, Amazon didn’t have any digital assistant with widespread adoption (as the firephone was a marketshare failure). For them to get into the digital assistant space required them to take a non-conventional approach and it’s unique integration with Amazon’s services allowed it to order products with ease and still gave it a purpose even for users of iPhones and Android devices. However Google and Apple already have a digital assistant in the pocket of the majority of Americans and both are highly capable of performing tasks both on the phone and to control smart home products around them.

        But to address your point, the Apple TV has always been able to bring content directly to your TV. Since generation 1, that has been its sole purpose. IMHO I think that SIRI in a box would offer little real usage and would be a waste of resources both for customers and Apple alike.

        Personally what I would like to see is SIRI get involved in continuity and handoff. The ability to say, “Hey SIRI play my workout music on my basement speakers” or “Hey SIRI turn on my TV and put on the Avengers” or “Hey SIRI I want to finish watching this on my iPad” would be a HUGE advancement and none of that requires a standalone SIRI box. In fact I have a wishlist a mile long for SIRI and not 1 item would require this kind of product.

  • Jack Smith

    They are NOT mutually exclusive. Apple should be doing both like Google. The Google Home continues to improve on its own. It is going to only be that much more difficult for Apple to catch up. Tech now learns very different than the past and fundementally changes the business of tech.

    Playing song on Google home and now you can say, again, or restart, or play it again, or one more time, repeat and a pretty much any thing you can think of.

    When I got it in December this was not true. In an eerie voice “it learns”. Think a pretty big deal in terms of business.

    Also realize the Echo is using fundementally different technology any why it uses set commads. So humans would have to code other commands to repeat a song. What happens with Google people say it so it does not work and then do it a different way that does. As more do this Google software on its own build the relationship. It was built from the ground for this as it is the same with search.

    But you have to break an inflection point to get it rolling. You need some people to try and fail in some cases but have success enough that they keep trying.

    One you are rolling it picks up speed. But you MUST get rolling ASAP.

    Next Christmas Google Home will be too good to have a dream in a comparison. Apple need Siri smart speaker yesterday.

  • I remember talking about this when Google first launched Google Home. For a company like Amazon (with less than 1% smartphone marketshare) having a stand alone device that connects deeply into their services makes a lot of sense (since almost no one owns their phone).

    But for companies like Apple and Google it starts to make less sense to me. We have a phone in our pocket that can respond to voice instruction to play music, control home functions and request information from. Not only does it work in every room of the house, it works on the road and at work. It would seem then that these devices are limited in terms of where they can be used and inherently overlaps with the functionality we already cary around with us.

    The reason then that I wouldn’t buy such a device if Apple did offer it is because I wouldn’t want to pay an Apple premium for the convenience of not having to pick my phone up.

    But to each their own. Personally it feels like a product best geared towards those who don’t own smartphones but want a digital assistant of their own.