“It’s been a weird year for Apple, product-wise,” Dan Moren writes for Macworld. “Not only were there a dearth of updates to the Mac, relatively modest changes to the Apple Watch and iPad, and very little movement on the Apple TV, but the company took the rare step of essentially discontinuing two of its product families: displays and its AirPort Wi-Fi routers.”

“General consensus seems to be that killing off those products is about streamlining the company to focus on other projects,” Moren writes. “We’re probably still a ways off from discovering what that streamlining is in favor of, but Apple fans are hopeful that it’ll be something totally new.”

“So here, let me tell you a fantastical tale of an Apple product that will probably never exist, but which makes a certain amount of sense in the company’s brave new lineup. A caveat: this stems from nothing more than my own imagination, not from any inside information or special knowledge,” Moren writes. “Looking at the likes of the Amazon Echo and Google Home, it’s not hard to imagine Apple packaging a great-sounding speaker with an array of microphones with which to interact with Siri… What if the Siri Speaker wasn’t just another device on your network, but included the hardware needed to run the network too? Instead of having a Wi-Fi router and a speaker, combine them into one—the AirPort line would not have died in vain.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Wow, we wish we’d thought of that. Oh, right, we did:

Wi-Fi router capabilities to be built into Apple’s Echo echo? — MacDailyNews, November 21, 2016

Also, as we wrote in March:

Something along the lines of Amazon Echo is what Apple should have done if run by competent, forward-thinking management. When Apple finally does do their version of Amazon Echo (and they will get around to doing such a product eventually) they will rightly be called a follower. The company had all of the ingredients to make their own Echo, before Amazon, except for the vision, it seems.

And, as we wrote back in June:

There could be a psychological component to this that leads people use Alexa over Siri precisely because they know the Echo is there (it’s a physical object), but forget about Siri being everywhere, even on their wrists (because Siri is embedded inside devices that are “for other things” in the user’s mind (telling time, watching TV, computing, phone calls, etc.) and therefore “hidden” to the user. Hence, Siri gets forgotten and goes unused while people use Alexa…

Again: We believe people use Alexa because Amazon Echo is a physical manifestation of “her,” while forgetting about Siri even though she’s on their wrists at all times and/or in their iPhones and iPads because Siri is hidden inside objects whose primary function is something other than “personal assistant” in people’s minds (watch, TV, phone or tablet, as opposed to “Siri.”) Alexa is present thanks to the Amazon Echo. Siri is absent because she has no such counterpart; no physical manifestation.

Siri is a ghost. Alexa is that cool, fun, glowing tube right there on the counter.

Apple would do well to not discount the psychology behind why people use certain features, even though cold, hard logic tells them it’s a redundant and unnecessary product.

An “Apple Echo” device would sell in the millions of units per quarter and boost Siri usage immensely.

Apple abandons development of wireless routers – November 21, 2016