Apple’s rumored Amazon Echo competitor may come in the form of a new set-top box, reports VentureBeat. Citing a source familiar with the matter, the outlet says the iPhone maker is working on a new Apple TV with an improved version of Siri.
“They want Apple TV to be just the hub of everything,” the source told VentureBeat. Earlier this week, The Information reported that Apple is building a new device with a speaker and always-on microphone to rival products from Amazon and Google.
Apple has considered several options — turning the existing Apple TV into a more comprehensive assistant, making the Apple TV’s Siri Remote the key device, or even building a standalone speaker just like Echo. Ultimately, the third option was dropped, given how much money Apple has spent on the development of Apple TV.
The problem with using the remote as the hub is that it doesn’t have a battery — it needs to be charged occasionally with a Lightning cable. The box itself has no microphone, but if it did, fan noise from a nearby device, like a television, could make speech recognition challenging. The Apple TV will eventually get its own microphone and speaker, the source said.
The current box can handle dictation, but processing queries and serving up results requires additional computing infrastructure, and Apple is working on that, the source said. The Apple TV represents more than just a set-top box that can replace a cable box. Apple wants to own the living room and the connected home in general, the source said. A more powerful Apple TV would be a stronger foundation for new Apple products.
Additionally, Apple is also said to be planning to launch an SDK for Siri soon, allowing third-party app developers to integrate with the digital assistant. The reports come amidst increasing chatter that Apple is far behind other tech giants in the AI space.