Apple’s ‘Siri Speaker’ has entered overseas production ahead of WWDC

Apple “has started manufacturing a long-in-the-works Siri-controlled smart speaker, according to people familiar with the matter,” Mark Gurman and Alex Webb report for Bloomberg. “Apple could debut the speaker as soon as its annual developer conference in June, but the device will not be ready to ship until later in the year, the people said.”

“The device will differ from Amazon.com Inc.’s Echo and Alphabet Inc.’s Google Home speakers by offering virtual surround sound technology and deep integration with Apple’s product lineup, said the people, who requested anonymity to discuss products that aren’t yet public,” Gurman and Webb report. “Introducing a speaker would serve two main purposes: providing a hub to automate appliances and lights via Apple’s HomeKit system, and establishing a bulwark inside the home to lock customers more tightly into Apple’s network of services.”

“Inventec Corp., the Taipei manufacturer that already makes the AirPod wireless headphones, will add the speaker to its Apple repertoire, the people said. Apple employees have been secretly testing the device in their homes for several months, they said,” Gurman and Webb report. “Apple hopes that more advanced acoustics technology will give the speaker an edge over competitors, according to people with knowledge of the product’s development. Along with generating virtual surround sound, the speakers being tested are louder and reproduce sound more crisply than rival offerings, the people said… Ahead of Apple’s launch, the competition has upgraded their speakers with support for making voice calls, while Amazon’s gained a touchscreen. Apple’s speaker won’t include such a screen, according to people who have seen the product.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Bring it on!

With Amazon’s Echo going for $179, we could see Apple’s Echo echo starting at $299 (if there’s a range), but that is, of course, a wild guess as we’ll have to see the full functionality offered by Apple’s device(s) first.

Once they finally get something shipping in quantity, it’ll be fun to watch how quickly Apple takes the top end of the market away from Amazon’s Echo since Apple’s solution will certainly have unique advantages within Apple’s ecosystem that makes it the obvious choice for Mac, iPad, iPhone, and Apple Watch users. — MacDailyNews, May 10, 2017

SEE ALSO:
Apple Siri Speaker: What will it be, how might it look, and what will it do? – May 18, 2017
Wishlist for Apple’s Siri Speaker: Hi-Fi audio, multi-user control, HomeKit, and more – May 8, 2017
Phil Schiller on Amazon Echo-like devices and more – May 6, 2017
Apple’s Amazon Echo echo rumored to borrow trashcan Mac Pro design cues, could arrive at WWDC – April 28, 2017
Following debut of Echo Look with built-in camera, Amazon likely reveal new Echo device with a built-in display – April 27, 2017
Apple said to be working on a Siri-based Amazon Echo rival – April 27, 2017
Apple’s Amazon Echo echo: What if AirPort Extreme becomes the Siri speaker? – December 1, 2016
Apple abandons development of wireless routers – November 21, 2016
Apple’s Amazon Echo echo – September 26, 2016
Apple’s Amazon Echo rival said to include includes built-in cameras to read users’ emotions, recognize faces – September 23, 2016
Apple’s Siri-powered Amazon Echo-like device reportedly now in prototype testing – September 23, 2016
Why an ‘Apple Echo’ would be a hit – June 15, 2016
New Apple TV to take on Amazon’s Echo, source says – May 26, 2016
Apple preps Amazon Echo rival, opening up Siri – May 24, 2016
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
Why did Apple buy a startup whose tech can read emotions via facial recognition?/a> – January 7, 2016
Apple buys Emotient, maker of artificial-intelligence tech that reads emotion by analyzing facial expressions – January 7, 2016

30 Comments

  1. Gotta hand it to Amazon for pioneering the Echo!

    Gotta recognize Google for jumping in the pool second.

    And Apple? I hope they do a cannonball dive and wash the leaders away. It could happen! I suppose it’s better late than never. It’s also going to be an incentive for Apple to bring Siri up to full potential. It could happen!

    1. Here’s the point that intrigues me: I’m laid back in my comfy couch and I have an idle thought. Without bothering to move, I ask Siri about new recordings by Lorde. Siri announces a new album by her, and asks if I would like to order it through Amazon. Me: “Yes.” Siri: “Very well, I’ll arrange it.”

      Who would need an Amazon Echo, if Always-on Siri can provide the same agency, without the spying?

        1. Alexa is an agent of Amazon, providing them with web traffic data and analytics. That’s spying, even if I opt in. Don’t try to pretend otherwise. Apple’s and Amazon’s business models are diametrically opposed.

            1. Well, the two have very obviously opposite business models. Apple makes money by selling you hardware. All other tools, services and applications are there as a part of the ecosystem that locks users inside, with the main purpose of selling hardware. If you are unsure about this, just look at the profit margins compared to competitors: for hardware, Apple charges a massive premium; for software, it either gives it for free, or severely undercuts competition (Final Cut, Logic).

              Apple collects information about its users, much like anyone else. This is in the license agreement that you click through when setting up your Apple device. It is what they do with this information where Apple and Amazon differ significantly.

              Apple never sold ANY information about its customers to ANY third party. This has been rather well documented. Amazon, Google, Facebook and the other major players sell customer data. More importantly, they have no issues with sharing customer information with not just law enforcement, but also various security agencies whose jurisdiction within the US (or elsewhere) is questionable.

              Apple has been known to NOT sell customer data, and NOT share customer information with anyone. The fight against the FBI is quite well known.

            2. Call me paranoid, but once again, just because they say so doesn’t really mean they don’t, and of course they will not tell you. Basically, if you are on the grid, you are susceptible. Take that to the bank.

            3. That’s fair enough, although I’m not quoting Apple here; many experts have been looking at the behaviour of these companies and concluded that Apple doesn’t sell customer data, while others do as a matter of business. In other words, the difference is quite stark.

              If I have to be on that grid, I can at least chose the place that will cause the least damage.

      1. I’m laid back in my comfy couch and I have an idle thought.

        Excellent ‘optics’. No offense intended.

        Who would need an Amazon Echo, if Always-on Siri can provide the same agency, without the spying?

        An excellent point. As long as Apple keeps a lock on spewing our lives out to the marketing vampires, I’d of course prefer the Siri talking gadget.

        1. Diana Prince will naturally order Gaudi lace, replacement chandelier crystals and dom Pérignon through Amazon because she’s Wonder Woman. I’ll order shoes, goatsmilk soap from Australia and romance novels through Amazon because I’m lazy. In both cases, using Siri as an agent, rather than exposing ourselves to Alexa or to Jeff Bezos’s invasive website, is a nice way of protecting our secret identities whilst still getting the goodies delivered to our doorsteps.

        2. By the way, it turns out that ay/aye means always. Aye Mak Sicur translates as Always Make Secure — good advice for anyone interested in staying alive.

          1. Thanks! Applying that advice / oath is going to vary according to context. It’s interesting that it uses the word ‘secure’. Which ‘security’ has a higher priority over another ‘security’? I was just quoting to DavGreg:

            “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

            Here, Mr. Franklin is pointing out that the security of liberty is of greater value than the security of ‘safety’. Isn’t that interesting?

  2. Sorry, long time Apple supporter/investor here. Siri STILL SUCKS unless you’re using it for basic wording stuff…..anything remotely complex and i use DragonSpeak…….

    1. Siri has gotten a lot better over the last few years. Apple’s problem is that their product has spent years teaching us that Siri is fairly incapable, and so we just stop trying. The speaker product will give them a chance to show people what Siri can do, simply because the new form-factor will force people to re-think that’s possible.

      Better yet, Apple should give her a new name. If Siri is a bit slow on the uptake, perhaps her older sister can do the job you need!

      1. I speak standard American English, and from my experience Siri has degraded over the past few years.

        I agree with the new branding. Maybe something like “Idontcauseimmensefrustrationanymore” would be better name.

        One last note: I hope Apple delivers on AI sooner than later. I watched a two hour Nvidia presentation last night, and it seems the vast majority was about AI. It really was an eye-opener. The CEO of Nvidia mentioned there have been 1300 AI start-ups created in the last eighteen months, and AI/machine learning classes are the most popular classes at Stanford right now. Every discipline from marine biology to data science is taking these classes. To me, this moment in history reminds me of the early Internet days. A commenter on another blog mentioned AI will be as big as the Internet, and judging from Nvidia’s emphasis it seems plausible.

        Hopefully, Apple doesn’t release a half-baked Siri speaker product next week. Doing so could severely damage their future plans for more advanced AI products, especially when there are so many other company’s nipping at their heels.

        1. My experience has been the opposite, Siri has gotten very good at speech recognition over the last few years. The problem is that Siri has a very limited vocabulary. I can do quite well dictating text messages as long as the content is very plain.

  3. I don’t get why anyone would want of these….a total stranger listening to every spoken word in your private residence???

    What??? We already have Siri on our phones…you need her more why???

      1. In a way you are right and clearly that was the direction that Apple was planning too though why this was never a fundamental part of Apple TV is beyond me as over a year before the present hobbled version launched that’s precisely what the ‘experts’ were claiming as fact. Siri based automation for HomeKit was to be a core function which makes you wonder when the actual product was launched not only without this functionality but lacking in the to department too compared to the opposition if it was in fact a fall back option or less developed reject filling in for the proposed product that never was… At least until now. Would explain perhaps why the ATV has not been developed in that form since even after that failed launch if it’s just a makeweight. I guess we may see next week even if the 2 products can’t be precisely interchangeable based on likely price there may be a close relationship and Apple does prefer that big significant launch over the gradual advance from a marketing point of view as we have seen with evident hold ups in other products too in recent times.

    1. I share your concern with allowing a total stranger into my house, despite all the professed benefits. In this Echo game, the key point of differentiation is to regard Siri as a trusted member of your family, a bonded servant rather than a foreign spy :— someone planted by a corporation in order to detail your daily transactions, the better to exploit your weak-minded consumer propensities. Siri would keep all that to herself, and die rather than betray you.

  4. A story like this highlights what, I think, may be the biggest problem at today’s Apple. To be prepared to release a product like this, based around Siri; Tim, Phil and the rest of the crew obviously believe Siri is good or, at least, doesn’t suck. To many many people in the real Apple-using universe, Siri is a bad joke. Beyond sucks, but the powers that be think it’s good enough.

    Since October they’ve been willing to sell laptops running on a freaking 2GHz dual core i5 with a measly 256gb of storage and 8 gigs of RAM and believe this is good enough to constitute a ‘Pro’ laptop. Really guys?

    Tim Cook, the ‘Operations Genius’ apparently thinks products being largely unavailable 6 months (or more) after being announced time after time after time is good enough.

    This problem I’m speaking of is the utter cluelessness of Tim Cook’s Apple. It’s like your crotchety ol’ Grampa Gus bringing his cutting edge Atari 2600 to Thanksgiving dinner to impress the kiddos. They clearly think they’re doing good enough so where’s the incentive to exceed ‘good enough’? That was one of Jobs’ most brilliant aspects – not only did he have the vision and sense to see that crap like this is NOT good enough (pffffft, a blind squirrel should be able to see that) – he had the fortitude to demand more (and get it) from those under him. Sadly when Jobs handed the company to Cook that imperative was pissed out the window in favor of Mr. Friendly.

    Oooooh, but we’re getting Carpool Karaoke because….

    Get with the program guys….or don’t. Ride off into the sunset and staff the company with people who actually have a f’ing clue.

  5. Siri just doesn’t work well. $39 for the echo dot and she (Alexa) hasn’t missed one damn word I’ve said. Apple, forget it, your late, Siri sucks, and Amazon won this battle a long time ago.

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