Where’s Apple’s answer to Amazon Echo?

“Hey Siri, thanks for the smaller phone, but how about an Echo-like smart speaker?” Shara Tibken wonders for CNET. “Thursday’s a big day in tech. Apple’s iPhone SE and 9.7-inch iPad Pro go on sale. Also available are the latest products in Amazon’s Echo family of smart speakers: the portable Amazon Tap and speaker attachment Echo Dot. For many of you, it’s Amazon’s products and its digital voice assistant Alexa that are the big draw.”

“That’s because the Pringles can-shaped Echo speaker has been a surprise hit due to its ability to let you ask about the weather, play NPR news, set reminders, add items to your grocery list and even order pizza for delivery,” Tibken writes. “There will be an estimated 20.8 billion connected items, including cars and appliances, by 2020, according to market researcher Gartner. Thanks to the Echo and Alexa, Amazon is already playing a central role in that transition in people’s homes. Apple finds itself behind the pack even though it launched Siri before digital assistants came into vogue.”

“Apple will need to work hard to catch up. With the Echo Dot, any speaker can gain access to Alexa,” Tibken writes. “So far, Apple just has HomeKit, a platform for developers to integrate smart home devices into its iOS mobile software. Typically, the company releases a fully formed product that combines hardware, software and services. In the case of HomeKit, it’s counting on partners for the products. ‘It’s such a departure from how Apple normally does things,’ Jackdaw Research analyst Jan Dawson said. ‘It’s an experiment on Apple’s part I’d argue hasn’t gone that well.'”

“Apple could supercharge its efforts with an Echo-like device that ties everything together,” Tibken writes. “‘It is inevitable,’ Dave Friedman, CEO of Ayla Networks, said about Apple creating an Echo competitor.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: There’ll be no sugarcoating this from these quarters. As we wrote just two days ago:

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.

37 Comments

  1. Where’s Apple’s answer to Amazon Echo?

    Probably waiting for a new and improved Siri, one that can answer verbally rather than always showing me web pages in answer to my questions.

      1. macbart: agree completely. It’s kind of creepy. It wasn’t that long ago Samsung was getting the torch for their TVs “grabbing” ambient voices and using info for “marketing”? Also, isn’t much like the Google drag netting personal info for “marketing”?

  2. Isn’t the AppleWatch the answer to Echo?

    I don’t want an always-on listening device in my home.

    I’m sure the main reason Amazon is doing it is so they can listen to our media consumption habits across all platforms, perhaps make projections on future popularity of products (listening for the hottest toys before christmas?).

    1. Everyone knows Apple is far behind Amazon and Google when it comes to intelligent devices. Apple is just barely surviving in the world of tech or so I’ve heard. Next they’ll be saying Echo/Alexa takes the place of a faithful spouse. You talk, it just listens and obeys with no back-talk or attitude.

      /s

    2. This. Having a clunky piece of hardware in one location in your house or having a series of speakers in multiple rooms is a massive step backwards. Siri is always on your wrist or your iPhone is always in your hand or pocket. The hardware part is squared away, it’s the frustrating software that Apple is behind on. Their policy of not data minining is probably the biggest roadblock and may just be the tradeoff for privacy with Apple products for now.

  3. I’m not sure I want an always on microphone sitting in the middle of my kitchen listening to my conversations. Siri is deliberately used. That is a huge and very important difference, IMHO.

    1. If you turn on “hey Siri” on your 6s, you essentially have the same thing. A device that is always listening to you. It is just made by a company willing to go to the mat against the FBI to protect your data.

    1. Apple innovates by studying where it can improve beyond years that other can even dream… so its ok Echo comes and people like it… Apple will put its dent on Echo when Amazon becomes such a slug and profit hungry hog that sees no further progress.

    1. Yes, Apple needs an answer for every product every tech company puts out or the company will be considered a doomed company. If Tesla has an electric vehicle, Apple MUST have one. Oculus VR googles, Apple MUST have a much better similar product. If Amazon has Echo, then Apple MUST have a similar product.

      But wait… as soon as Apple gets more products there will be the cry of how Apple has lost its focus and has spread itself too thin. This is Apple we’re talking about and there are supposedly too many problems with the company no matter what measures are tried.

      I have no interest in owning an Echo device. I don’t even use the Alexa speech search on my Amazon Fire TV. I’d rather not talk to devices and prefer the old fashioned method of type input because that’s what I’m used to. I definitely don’t want an ‘always on’ listening device. I really must be way out of the loop because I don’t see how the Echo is a game changer. It’s OK, but hardly some device everyone is going to run out to buy. It’s weird how everything Apple puts out is considered useless but everything Amazon puts out is going to change the world. Amazon really has the news media working well for them to get such high praise. We’ll never even know how many Echo devices get sold because Bezos never divulges such information. Bezos will say Amazon sold a hell of a lot of Echos and Amazon’s share price will skyrocket as usual because HIS word is golden.

  4. The Echo is so far ahead of Apple and Siri I don’t see how they’d catch up. You can’t know what it’s like until you live with it for a couple days — I use it all day every day to control my lights, set timers, listen to news briefings, music and audiobooks, call Uber, order Dominos, and even re-order supplies I’ve ordered from Prime. Finding your phone and holding down a button until you hear a beep so you can issue a command seems pretty lame now.

    I thought Hey Siri was a start, but it works less than half the time for me – Alexa works 100% of the time. Here’s my usual attempt to set an alarm while lying in bed in the dark: “Hey Siri. Hey Siri. HEY. Siri. Hey SIRI. HEY SIRI. Hey Siri. Fuck it (feel around for phone and press button).

    With regard to the listening paranoia, commands have to be sent to the cloud to be interpreted, and sending a constant stream of audio for theoretical “data mining” just wouldn’t make sense from a business or technology perspective. Sending a few seconds here and there from millions of customers is do-able — uploading continually just wouldn’t make sense. Although I understand if you’re a conspiracy theorist, militia member, or terrorist you might be nervous…

    PS: Siri should have come to OS X a year ago, and now when it does it will just be following Cortana’s lead — but oh well, still looking forward to it.

  5. Fat, dumb, lazy and naive americans can sit on their enormously fat asses and command things to happen. Wow, that sounds great. Let’s make it easier for them to be fat fucks. Two thirds of the population is overweight or obese. Hey Alexa, go fetch me some pie, cheetos and a coke. Great.

    Not to mention government eavesdropping.

    1. The capability to misuse a useful technology is not an imperative to do so….

      ….however, I grant you it’s a slippery slope towards giving in and doing so….

  6. This is ridiculous! I was just at a friends house this past weekend. He has an Amazon echo and was bragging about how he can just ask to hear a song and it happens.
    Then I paired his iPhone to his big ass stereo system and had him ask Siri to play the same song… No more limited sound quality with the echo, he now uses his apple device to do all, and more, than his silly little Alexa could do.
    Why don’t people get it, Apple doesn’t need to try and play catch up. People just need to know how to fully utilize the devices they already have.

    1. RTFM. Very few people do it. Lazy.
      Then when you get something like the iPhone that has no paper manual, they never bother to spend a few hours going thru all the settings and apps and LEARNING. They’d rather play Farmville or some other crap.

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