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.