Apple isn’t content to leave the connected speaker market to Amazon and Google.
A new report from Bloomberg says the company has quietly started prototyping an internet-connected speaker that would use the Siri digital assistant to control other Internet of Things devices, ask about the weather, and perform many of the same tasks that can be done via iOS and macOS devices.
That would make the device — which probably has an even chance of being called either the iHome or the Apple Speaker if it ever comes to market — similar to the Amazon Echo and Google Home. Apple working on this device, however, does not guarantee that it plans to release this product. Companies often shelve prototypes for years or simply abandon the project.
But it makes sense for Apple to at least consider making a connected speaker. Amazon Echo has already become integral to many American families, and is even being used to help diagnose mental illnesses, which proves its versatility and potential.
Apple could make a similar product to tap into that market. The company has also been improving Siri and recently brought it to the Mac as well as the new Apple TV. Siri is fast becoming an integral part of Apple’s ecosystem; a product devoted specifically to the artificially intelligent assistant makes sense.
Introducing a device like the Amazon Echo years after its debut also fits with Apple’s strategy of following other companies into nascent markets. Amazon has proven that there’s an audience for connected speakers. In the meantime, Apple has introduced features like “Hey Siri,” which allows people with newer iPhones to summon the digital assistant with nothing but their voice. The company is effectively training its customers to be comfortable with a ubiquitous Siri.