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