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Apple Set To Have A Crack At Siri Voice For The Home

Beaten up by both Amazon and Google in the voice activation speaker market Apple now wants to take on their two big competitors with a Siri speaker that can activate home devices.

According to manufacturers in Asia Apple has started manufacturing a Siri-controlled smart speaker aimed at taking on the popular Amazon Echo and Google’s Home speaker even though Siri is seen as being “inferior” to the Amazon and Google offering according to analysts.

Apple is tipped to debut the speaker at their annual developer conference in June, but the device will not be ready to ship in Australia until later in the year, sources said.

According to Bloomberg the device will differ from Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home speakers by offering virtual surround sound technology and deep integration with Apple’s product line-up.

The primary objective of the new Apple device is to deliver a hub to automate appliances and lights via Apple’s Home Kit system, and establishing a bulwark inside the home to lock customers more tightly into Apple’s network of services.

Apple currently see their proprietary eco system as being under threat from Google’s and Amazon’s connected speakers which don’t support services from Apple.

Without compatible hardware, users may be more likely to opt for the Echo or Home, and therefore use streaming music offerings such as Spotify, Amazon Prime Music or Google Play rather than Apple Music claim analysts.

“This will be a platform for developing Apple’s services,” says Gene Munster, a co-founder of Loup Ventures and former Apple analyst.

The Taiwanese manufacturer, Inventec who currently make the Apple AirPods Wireless headphones is believed to be the maker of the new speakers.

Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has admitted that during the past 18 months iPhone sales slowed. However, expects service revenue to double by 2020 from last year’s $24 billion.

A speaker may help keep customers loyal to service products such as Apple Music, a subscription music streaming offering that costs $10 per month. The speaker would likely be tucked into Apple’s “Other Products” category, which currently includes devices like the Apple Watch, Apple TV and AirPods. That set of products generated $11 billion in sales last year.

 

 

This year’s developers conference will be the first since 2013 to introduce new hardware. Apple could announce updated iPad tablets at the conference, one of the people said. Apple last updated the 9.7-inch iPad Pro in March 2016 and hasn’t refreshed the larger 12.9-inch model since its November 2015 debut. Planned Mac updates will include refreshed versions of the MacBook and MacBook Pro with faster Intel Corp. processors, Bloomberg News reported earlier this month.

 

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. Apple has also considered including sensors that measure a room’s acoustics and automatically adjust audio levels during use, one of the people said.

 

This was a concept that Sonos tried to rollout but abandoned it because of a lack of consumer interest. It did not work with Android based devices.

 

The new device will be a hub for Apple’s Home Kit home automation system, letting users control devices such as lights, door locks and window blinds. At present, an Apple TV or iPad is required to control that equipment from outside the home or automatically. The Echo and Google Home both support third-party services and smart home appliances.

 

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.

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