Is Apple Launching an Amazon Echo Rival?

Apple Smart Home Could be Coming
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Paul Sakuma/AP/REX/Shutterstock (6265116a) Phil Schiller Apple's Phil Schiller talks about Siri during an announcement at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. Apple's Siri made a big splash when the wisecracking digital assistant debuted in 2011. But as its competitors jockey to build intelligent "chat bots" and voice-controlled home systems capable of more challenging artificial-intelligence feats, Siri at times no longer seems cutting edge. On, Apple is expected to demonstrate how much smarter Siri can get as it kicks off its annual software conference. It's a potentially momentous time for the company; sales of its flagship iPhone are slowing, and AI is emerging as a key tech battleground Apple-Smarter Siri, Cupertino, USA
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* Apple exec dropped hints of possible Amazon Echo competitor
* Siri currently offers voice assistance but no screen to view
* Amazon and Google currently dominate smart home market

Move over Alexa — Siri could be coming for your throne.

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Apple is causing ripples across the industry today after news broke over the weekend of a possible Apple rival to Amazon Echo.

The news comes after Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller, gave an interview to technology news site, Gadgets 360, about upgrading some of Siri’s capabilities. Speaking to the publication, Schiller (pictured above) said that while having a voice assistant is helpful, “the idea of not having a screen, I don’t think suits many situations.”

Schiller specifically highlighted three areas where having a display — along with having Siri — could prove useful:

1. Driving. “If I can see that map, and I can see what turns are coming up, and I can see where there is congestion, I understand better my route, and what I’m going to do.”

2. Photography. “Photography requires a screen. So the idea of a device without a screen, well it’s not really useful for that whole category of photos that we all share. And all the social networking apps that are now embracing photos more and more, well, it doesn’t work really so great in voice-only assistants.”

3. Gaming. “I have yet to see any voice-only games that, for me, are nearly as fun as the one that I play on my screen.”

While Schiller didn’t specifically say Apple was launching a smart home hub, it seems only logical given the success of Amazon Echo and Google Home. Microsoft also just revealed a first look at its new smart speaker, the Invoke (below).

The Invoke features more woofers and tweeters that the Echo (making for more powerful sound), and Microsoft says the device will be able to make and receive Skype calls to other Skype devices as well as cellphones and landlines, which is different from current home assistants. Harman Kardon is the maker of the Invoke, which will run on Microsoft’s Cortana digital personal assistant.

As for Apple? Analysts say we could expect news of a smart home device as early as next month, at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose.