Apple to release smart speaker next week

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Only days before Apple’s eagerly anticipated Worldwide Developers Conference next week, Bloomberg has reported that the firm might announce the much-rumoured Siri-controlled smart speaker at the event.

According to Bloomberg, “people familiar with the matter” confirmed that the gadget is likely to be announced at the WWDC — but that it would only ship later in 2017.

Details remain elusive, but the report discusses “virtual surround sound technology”, with the product expected to be fully integrated with the company’s existing range of products.

This would be Apple’s answer to Google’s Home and Amazon Echo, both of which are controlled by their respective virtual assistants. According to sources, the Apple speaker will feature superior sound quality and increased volume. It may also include sensors that evaluate a venue’s acoustics and adjust audio levels accordingly.

Apart from competing with Google and Amazon, Apple’s Siri-controlled speaker might also double up as a smart hub for the firm’s HomeKit products.

The report suggests that the new speaker might help Apple retain current subscribers to Apple Music. With iPhone sales dwindling, services such as the $10/month Apple Music have become vital for the firm. Neither Google Home nor Amazon Echo officially works with Apple Music so this could become the first smart speaker for the home which can access the streaming service.

The Apple speaker’s design and price will be significant for sales. Amazon’s Echo has evolved over the years from the initial cylindrical speaker to smaller disc-like speakers, with the more recent Echo Show featuring a touchscreen and the ability to make video and voice calls.

Bloomberg’s sources claim that Apple’s speaker will have no display, so it might be more similar to the first Echo or Google Home. Google’s device sells for $129 — less than Amazon’s speaker when it was first launched. But how much Apple’s speaker will cost remains anyone’s guess.


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