Bloomberg: Apple employees are testing rumored Siri smart speaker at home

In its write-up about Amazon’s newly announced touchscreen-enabled Echo device, Bloomberg mentioned in passing that Apple’s employees are now reportedly testing the company’s rumored Siri smart speaker at home. “Apple employees have been testing a device at home for several months,” according to people familiar with the matter.

Apple’s marketing chief recently talked up the benefits of having a screen on a voice-activated device, but “it’s unclear whether the Apple version will in fact have one,” said Bloomberg.

Amazon’s $230 Echo Show, pictured below, streams music from Amazon’s own service, Spotify and Pandora, but not Apple Music. “We’d love to have Apple, but they’re not super big on opening up Apple Music integration,” said Amazon devices chief Dave Limp.

Apple’s upcoming AI speaker is likely to feature native Apple Music integration.

It’s not unusual for Apple to allow its employees to test unreleased products at home. The fact that the rumored Siri device is being tested with Apple employees indicates that the product is nearly finished and being prepared and bug-tested ahead of a rumored launch next month.

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted it would be powered by an iPhone 6s-class custom processor and a custom version of iOS, supporting features like Siri and AirPlay.

“We expect Apple’s first home AI product will have excellent acoustics performance (one woofer and seven tweeters) and computing power similar to iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s application processor,” Kuo told clients.

KGI believes there’s more than a 50 percent chance that Apple will announce its first home AI product at WWDC 2017 next month. It should start selling in the second half of 2017 and be priced higher than Amazon’s existing Echo appliances.

Siri wireless speaker mockup via Twitter user “iFunnyVlogger”.