Among the new product announcements Apple might make at its developers conference next month is a smart home device controlled by Siri, its intelligent digital assistant.
Apple's smart home device would resemble Amazon's Echo (pictured above), according to a report yesterday in The Information. At its I/O developer conference last week, Google announced it would also be coming out with a similar device, called Google Home.
Citing an unnamed person "with direct knowledge of the effort," The Information reported that Apple also plans to release a software developer kit (SDK) for developers who want to create apps that work with Siri. The SDK is likely to launch before Apple's smart home device and ahead of its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), set for June 13 through 17 in San Francisco.
Siri 'Has Not Kept Pace'
"After years of internal debate and discussion about how to do so, the company is preparing to open up Siri to apps made by others," The Information reported. "This would make Siri more useful and address a big knock users and developers have had against the service."
Developed by a company that was acquired by Apple in 2010, Siri was intended to become a next-generation assistant that could work intelligently with a wide range of e-commerce providers. However, Apple took the technology in a different direction after purchasing it.
Siri "went on to make history as being the first widely distributed system of its kind in the world," Brian Roemmele, founder of PayFinders.com, wrote yesterday in a commentary on Medium. However, "It is not a secret that Siri has not kept up the pace that just about all of us expected, including some of the Siri team," he added.
Earlier this month, Dag Kittlaus, one of Siri's creators, who now runs a new tech startup, demonstrated Viv, a new artificial intelligence designed to enable people to talk with any smart device on the Internet of Things. Viv represents the next "new paradigm" for how people interact with computers, Kittlaus said at the Disrupt NY 2016 tech conference.
Expect a 'Voice-First' Revolution
In his Medium commentary, Roemmele said Apple is likely to roll out what he called "Siri2" over the next couple of years, thanks in part to the company's acquisition of VocalIQ. A UK-based startup purchased by Apple in September, VocalIQ specializes in natural language machine learning for virtual assistants.
"If Apple utilizes just a small subset of the technology developed by VocalIQ, we will see a far more advanced Siri," Roemmele noted. "[J]ust like the personal computer revolution lead by Apple II and the Macintosh, the Voice-First revolution will bring about changes in ways few can comprehend."
The Echo, released in 2014, is "a new category of device designed around your voice," according to Amazon. The Echo is controlled with the help of an intelligent assistant called Alexa. Amazon has already released a limited preview version of an Alexa SDK for developers.
According to The Information, Apple has declined to comment on its report.
Image Credit: Amazon.
Image credit: Product shot by Amazon.