Apple working on an Amazon Echo rival that controls smart homes via Siri
Bloomberg reports that Apple is deep into developing a smart home device based on voice commands carried out by Siri, iOS and MacOS's voice-controlled assistant. The device is said to be similar in concept to Amazon's Echo speaker, but more tightly integrated in the smart home environment. With it, Apple wants to take on the existing competition by Amazon and the coming Google Home by Alphabet, Inc.
The project began over two years ago and has progressed to the stage of prototype testing. It's able to control appliances, locks, lights, and curtains via voice activation. It's also said to feature advanced microphone and speaker technology, with some prototypes also including facial recognition sensors – possibily developed with Faceshift and Emotient, two startups which Apple acquired in the past two years. The company has also considered adding mapping information – for example, to notify users when it's time to leave the house for an appointment.
With the device now in prototype stage, Apple engineers are supposedly testing it in their homes, which might take from six months to a year, or longer, given its practice of rigorous trials. In the meantime, the company is working on improvements to Siri with hopes of giving users the freedom to fully control their devices via voice commands within the next three years.