Australian leakster Sonny Dickson shared on Twitter this morning some pretty interesting development concerning Apple’s rumored standalone Siri device. According to Sonny’a tweet, Apple is currently finalizing designs for its Alexa competitor which he claims is expected to be “marketed as a Siri/AirPlay device.”

The description might indicate that the rumored device could be positioned as an inexpensive HDMI dongle focused on streaming, AirPlay and Siri, akin to Google Chromecast. Bloomberg reported last September that such a device was in prototype testing.

The Information originally reported back in May of last year that Apple was working on an Echo-style device with a speaker and always-on microphone for voice commands like turning on music, getting news headlines or setting a timer.

According to Bloomberg’s sources, the following features could be supported:

  • Control home appliances, locks, lights, curtains and other HomeKit devices
  • More advanced always-on mic and speaker than Amazon Echo or Google Home
  • Facial recognition to see folks in the room and determine their emotional state
  • Built-in speaker for wireless music playback
  • Built-in Siri would process many of the commands available on iPhone

Early versions featured built-in speakers with proprietary surround sound technology.

Apple is though to have tested at least two prototypes, a larger device and a smaller one, having even set up a small home theater to test these prototypes.

CNET later said the device could include cameras as well:

For example, users may be able to ask the device to read e-mails, send text messages and tweets, and stream content from Apple Music. Apple has also considered integrating mapping information into the speaker, potentially allowing the device to notify a user when it’s time to leave the house for an appointment.

Apple reportedly started working on the project in 2014, after debuting HomeKit.

Not everyone is convinced that Apple is building an Echo rival. After reportedly talking with Apple executives, Tim Bajarin came 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.”

Just yesterday, Amazon expanded its Alexa range of devices with the introduction of a hands-free camera aimed at fashionistas, dubbed Echo Look, which takes outfit photos and suggests the best wardrobe styles for you. The Echo range now includes three iterations of the device: the standard $180 Echo, the inexpensive $50 Echo Dot and the new $200 Echo Look.

As for Alexa herself, Amazon’s personal digital assistant is now officially supported on iPhone as a feature of its mobile shopping Amazon app for iOS. In another surprising move, the online retail giant has opened up access to Echo’s far-field voice recognition technology to let third-party vendors build their own versions of Alexa devices.

Source: Sonny Dickson on Twitter

  • whodakat

    The only thing that would make me care about this device is if it has a built in Apple TV and an AirPort Extreme. I’d probably still never use the Siri capabilities on the device itself though, as I have a smartphone in my pocket pretty much 24/7.

  • nova12

    “Facial recognition to see folks in the room and determine their emotional state”

    as a married man, this feature could be invaluable, especially if its connected via icloud and I can use it remotely with siri on my phone.

    “siri, is it cool to head home, or am I going to get a ration of sh*t?”

    “nova, she’s already pissed. might as well stay at the bar until closing.”

    • Rowan09

      If that’s the case I will never go home because my wife is always pissed. Man the married life.

  • edwilk55

    Replaced my Homeseer home automation with the Wink system. So far, I like it. If this works with they system, I’ll bite. If it limits me to Homekit, then nope!

  • Toukale

    Unless Apple has a killer feature for this thing even I, an Apple supporter will not buy it. Amazon has their webstore that sells everything for you. The Google version does not have the Amazon front to sell you, but they have search (which is perfect for a device like this). What will be the selling point for Apple version besides that it’s made by Apple.

    Their search by Google standard is crap, and unlike Amazon, they don’t have a store front that sell everything to marry it to. I understand Apple feel they have to play in this space, but I am not sure what their selling point will be, specially if they are going to lock it down to 3rd party support or select 3rd party approved by Apple.

    • What is the selling point for iPhone besides that it’s made by Apple?

      • Toukale

        That’s easy, it was the first touch enable phone and all the great things like appstore that got me on board initially. Apple has not done anything so far that would force me to jump ship. However, that is not the case here from what I can gather so far. Maybe Apple will think of something that I can’t yet.

        This device will need to offer something the others either don’t have or something it does better, so far I am not sure what that is.

      • Rowan09

        I’m confuse it will pretty much be connected to the Apple ecosystem allow you to order movies send it to Apple TV, or control your lights, home, etc. I would imagine you are want to use continuity and ask for directions to a certain area and as soon as you leave the house you can just continue from your iPhone. It’s pretty much the same as Alexa, so for those in the Amazon ecosystem they get Alexa and people in the Apple ecosystem may buy this, it’s no different.

      • Jack Smith

        This is just not true.

        You can use you iPhone with the Google ecosystem without any issue. So my wife is big into photography and uses Google Photos with her iPhone but uses Chromecasts and Nvidia Shield, and Google Home.

        She clicks the shutter button on her iPhone and doing nothing else she can sit at home and ask for the photo to appears on our TV. She never even needed me to help with anything.

        No special config or anything. All just tied to her Google account. Her steps are:

        – Go to App store and install Google Photos

        Done. It auto takes her photos, puts them in to the cloud, the Google Home knows her account, GH knows our Nvidia shield and Chromecasts.

        She can then say “hey google show me photos of johnny skateboarding from my photos on the TV” The TV then turns itself on, proper input set, auto logs into Google Photos, and a photo of Johnny Skateboarding appears.

      • Rowan09

        What’s not true? Apple products along with Google products are more integrated within their ecosystem. There were features on Google maps for example for years before Apple did Apple maps was exclusive to android and specifically voice directions. If Apple does make a product like this then it would have some features exclusive to Apple. We’ll have to wait and see because I have no need for any of these current devices and this rumored one yet.

      • Jack Smith

        More than anything it is just what you do. The average human is actually wired to be part of herds.

        My kids all use Spotify. Asked them why? and they looked at me like I was crazy. They indicated it is what you do. They do it because they saw their friends.

        They all use Chrome. Ask them why? Because that is what you use.

        Every single one of my kids as a Gmail address. All created them on their own. Why? Because they saw that is what others do.

        In a weird way it is like the old saying “nobody was fired for buying IBM”. iPhone purchase is looked as being the “norm” and a low risk decision for something that is really important, your smart phone.

  • zebonaut

    Siri; set Ambience “Your humble abode is ready for ambience”. Siri set relax. “Relax coming right up; ready ; steady; go!”. If they can’t get better dialogue than this it will fail.

  • Diego Milano

    Haha, nice title!

  • I’m calling it now: there’s gonna be a bug that accidentally treats the Siri device like Siri on an iOS device. Instead of saying what the answer to a question is, it’ll say “Ok, here’s what I found”.
    Hopefully by then, Siri will actually answer a question instead of just showing me links to websites.

  • MadeInNY

    They need to have a quantum leap in the quality of the software side of the service or no piece of hardware will make it worth having.