Apple is reportedly working on its rival to Amazon Echo, the voice-activated assistant packaged inside a speaker. Analysts suggests that it may come in the form of a refreshed Apple TV rather than a new product or hardware.
In order to better compete with Amazon Echo, Apple is reportedly turning onto its Apple TV for the expanded platform. Apple plans to update the Apple TV platform with more Siri-like features which will hopefully turn the entertainment device into the central hub of everything at home. The company wants to own the living room and the smart home in general, an upgraded Apple TV would be the foundation for its upcoming products.
The company will build on the enhancements made to the Apple TV last year, which brought the intelligent assistant Siri to the set-top box. Sources claim that a new version of the Apple TV would solve problems with the existing box and remote control.
Earlier this week, The Information reported that Apple is working on its rival to Amazon Echo. Apple’s first step in its war with Amazon is to open Siri to third-party developers and provide them with a Siri SDK. However, it’s still unclear what type of hardware the company plans to develop to compete with Amazon.
The news comes as the smart home market becomes increasingly connected with cloud computing services and Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled products. Amazon is leading the pack with its Alexa assistant and the popular Amazon Echo. Followed by search giant Google, which have two main products, the AI assistant Google Assistant and a speaker called Google Home.
Amazon has managed to succeed in the homefront in part because it openly allows Alexa to connect to third-party apps and services, like for example in performing all sorts of tasks that Amazon simply can’t accomplish on its own. However, Apple has one big strategic advantage in the intelligent assistant war is that Siri is multilingual while Alexa remains confined to the English-speaking US only.
In building an Amazon Echo rival, Apple is considering several options including turning the existing Apple TV into a more comprehensive assistant, making the Apple TV’s Siri Remote the key device of the house, or even building a standalone speaker just like what Amazon has done with its Echo. Apple has already explored with its Apple TV as a smart home hub since around 2012, about two years before the launch of Amazon Echo.
But the problem with using Apple TV as the input device is it doesn’t have a microphone, but if it did, fan noise from a nearby device could make speech recognition very difficult. The problem with using the microphone on Siri is that the device only has a certain amount of battery power and using it as a remote would rapidly drain its battery.
However, reports said that the current Apple device can handle dictation, but processing queries and serving up results requires additional computing infrastructure, an area that Apple is working on to address.
Smart home or home automation is one potential big market for major tech companies, and this is the whole reason why these high-flying companies are focusing more on the IoT-enabled devices like Echo and Siri.
Amazon Echo is a great example of this and it offers an easy way to do several tasks such as ordering products, searching the web, listening to music, and access just about anything you need.
Apple will probably not confirm anything about this project as it is still in the development stages. The crowd could learn more about this rumoured Amazon’s Echo-like device in the company’s upcoming big event in June, at WWDC 2016.
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