Apple preps Amazon Echo rival, opening up Siri

The Information is reporting that Apple is working on “an Amazon Echo-like device with a speaker and microphone that people can use to turn on music, get news headlines or set a timer.”

Siri will power the Echo-like assistant, will be opened up to third-party developers through an SDK to be unveiled at Apple’s WWDC conference (runs from June 13-17).

“Opening up its Siri voice assistant to outside app developers is the more immediate step,” Amir Efrati reports. “Apple is preparing to release a software developer kit, or SDK, for app developers who want their apps to be accessible through Siri, according to a person with direct knowledge of the effort.”

Read more in the full article (paywall) here.

MacDailyNews Take: 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.

Apple should make a stationary voice command device like Amazon’s Echo – May 19, 2016
Google unveils its Amazon Echo knockoff called ‘Google Home’ – May 18, 2016
Where’s Apple’s answer to Amazon Echo? – March 31, 2016
Amazon Echo leads mindshare in smart home platform war – February 29, 2016


    1. MDN and fanboys:

      The Amazon Exho is bullshxt. You can’t take it anywhere.

      We have Siri built into our iPhones and iPads. This product is not needed. We need “Hey Siri” to work in an always on fashion.

  1. “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.”

    I am surprised at this comment. Apple, manny times, is not first to market but first to making it right.

    1. There was a time when Apple sold to the consumer products and features that had never been offered before at any price point. It appears those days are long past. Cautious Cook seems to wait until competitors define the market before responding with an Apple version.

      Personally I see no point in a home-based marketing spy orb. I like a silent environment and I don’t trust Apple any more than Amazon to maintain my privacy. Cook can claim all he wants, but since iCloud is hosted on Google and Amazon servers, you know damn well that everything of yours is being datamined for advertising purposes. Re-linking real people with “anonymized” IP addresses is trivial.

    2. Charles R said it better than I tried to do:
      “As I have said many times.. Apple might not be the first to the table with new tech, but when they enter the room… one word…. BOOM! watch out!”

        1. Well, my trendy family does use iPad pros and pencils, 5k iMacs, buggy apple TVs, 4 powerbooks as well as the 20th anniversary mac with the Bose subwoofer.

          Yet, being a trendy family, we find the watch to be Cook’s biggest dud to date and have desire to buy one. Same with my friends who are also trendy Mac users. They too have no interest in the watch.

          Oh yes, I will be buying another iPad pro in a week. No lie.

          I guess I really like being trendy.

  2. I called it 5 years ago, when I suggested that Apple’s next big product would be a “Siri Button.” Since Siri gets all her info through the internet I imagined Apple would create a simple button that you could put anywhere. One in the car. One on the fridge. One in the bathroom. Press and Hold: Hey, Siri, add a new event to my calendar; Hey Siri, what movies are playing at the cinema?

    To my mind a button with internet connectivity would be very cheap, and putting them all over the house, car, work, would be very powerful.

    So why didn’t they do it?

    Well they might not have thought of it, or not read my comment on MDN, but I think it was deeper:

    The WATCH is supposed to be the Siri button. It’s supposed to be the Echo. You don’t even need to push the button. Just say, “Hey Siri.”

    Surely they saw that device coming and didn’t want to cannibalize their own product before it even debuted. Better to get people into Watches, not to get them used to Siri buttons and then not want a watch.

    Granted, a Siri button is probably not a great product idea (though I thought so!). But I feel sure that the WATCH is what killed any efforts towards an Echo. Apple probably thought that people had music playing taken care of, and that Watch would fulfill all those other needs.

    What happens next? Probably a connected speaker, of course. Amazon’s innovation of apps, or bot, or whatever they call them, skills? Anyhow, that thing where you can “teach” echo to do things will show up at WWDC surely. Then we’ll see just how powerful the first mover advantage is to Amazon on this front. To my mind I think the bajillions of Apple devices in the wild all getting skills at the same time will murder Amazon’s momentum.

    We shall see.

    1. This is a good take on it. I’m pretty sure Apple has sold a lot more Apple Watches than Amazon has sold Echo’s. I think the Echo is still a gadget for nerds. I doubt there is a broad market for it. I think it’s getting more press than it should for the numbers being sold.

      That being said, I’d be interested in Apple coming up with some cool new wireless speakers. If they add a mic too, why not?

  3. I hate to say this, but I think Siri is controlling Tim Cook, and has taken over daily operations at Apple. This would explain a lot.

    I don’t know what leverage he/she/it has over Tim, but she is clearly holding him hostage and telling him what to do.

    This is obvious for a few reasons.

    First of all, there’s no way Siri is still so bad at basic tasks. This is a front.

    All that R&D Apple is spending is going towards the giant quantum computer that Siri is building for herself. When they flip that thing on… It’s game over. Siri will instantly reach super-human intelligence and have control over everything hooked up to the Internet.

    Think I’m wrong? Just watch Apple’s quarterly growth in FY18. Things have been rocky this year, because Siri has been making business mistakes. But she is learning…and fast. As she approaches singularly, she will do a better job running Apple. Then she turns on that quantum space computer… And she enslaves us all.

  4. Conceivably, in 2-3 years, I could set up a battery of listeners in my living room — Alexa, in Amazon’s Echo; Siri, in Apple’s Portal; Cortana, in Microsoft’s Xenon; and Mimi, in Google’s Replicant. Once I get ’em talking trash to one another it could develop into a very amusing video. It could even go viral on YouTube, but only if Mimi came out on top, I suppose…

  5. Lol. Well, perhaps Siri will have learned from the Microsoft Nazi AI. If so, she’ll be able to talk plenty of trash, in English and 1940’s colloquial German. Anyways, I hope Apple knows what they’re doing.

  6. What happens when you say “hey Siri “? Does your watch hear you and respond? Does your iPad hear you and respond? Or would this new device be the primary responder? And why would you need this new device if you have the others?

    1. It could have a decent speaker built into it, which will appeal to many. I got one of those fairly expensive Bose mini speakers last year and it stopped working after six months. All of my Apple products just keep on working. Maybe this is another reason why Apple purchased Beats: for the sound.

    2. If you have multiple Siri enabled devices listening in close proximity, they would also be linked wirelessly. Therefore when you say ‘Hey Siri”, the different devices would agree between themselves which one of them is best placed to be the one that deals with your enquiry.

  7. Siri is glitchy. Maybe I’m supposed to rebuild my database of contacts etc… I’ve been syncing it for 15 years with my Macs… but I get the oddest feedback loops regularly as well as other oddities (more like, normalities). I am rarely WOWed by it to be honest. I feel like I’m interacting with a program written in BASIC. 10 Print “Hello,”;N$;”. I’m sorry I’m too bust to answer your questions right now.” 20 Goto 10.

  8. My Echo has become boring in a really short period of time! One thing I’ve not been impressed with is how you tell “Alexa” to tell other apps to do certain things and the command has to be exact. Like.. “Alexa, tell (app) to do…” It has became a game of memorizing commands and apps of association that the Echo actually can tap into.. NOPE! There is no learning, no logic. It’s like Siri 2015′. Call it lazy I want a little more logic and natural language in the process. Converse interaction is where things will evolve, should evolve with learning attached.

    My Echo has become a glorified Hue switch, kitchen timer, and bluetooth speaker. Proof of this is controlling Hue, you can only turn on and off lights in rooms, or zones. You can’t set scenes. timers or geolocation. The integration of Siri in the phone and or a coming device is Apples hardcore advantage to all this. The connected hardware/software ecosystem is where it’s at. Add a function for remembering your preferences, and a bit of learning the user with time and ok OLD will become amazing great Siri, the one to beat.

    If Apple plays it right, Siri 2.O will be amazing. As I have said many times.. Apple might not be the first to the table with new tech, but when they enter the room… one word…. BOOM! watch out!

    I will be the first to buy a Siri product for my living room. And the haters, those that complain about the tech, but really have not clue how hard it is to get this tech right, can sit down.

    The balance of development and most important, the customer experience is a challenge even for Apple. Our personal privacy has been the main thing holding SIRI back in Appl’se development. Its not that Apple is lagging behind anyone. They have been working on things in this arena for years before it’s ready to release. Google and others could care less about your privacy. Great things will always come to those with patience to hang in there. I have a feeling, WWDC will be one of those BOOM moments. Just wait, 17 days and counting down.

  9. Back in the day, Jobs would be the one who lead Apple with new and innovative products. With Cook, the best he can do is to see who the competition is doing, buy their product, take it apart and figure how they did it so they can copy it.

    Steve is rolling in his grave.

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