Report: Apple developing Siri-enabled Apple TV and robotic smart speaker
Apple Inc. is developing two new smart home devices with feature combinations that currently aren’t matched by any of its major competitors, according to a Bloomberg report published today.
The first device is a new version of the company’s Apple TV set-top box. The other is described as a smart display along the lines of Amazon.com Inc.’s Echo Show.
The successor to the Apple TV reportedly combines the features of a standard set-top box with access to Apple’s Siri artificial intelligence assistant, a camera and the ability to play music, among other capabilities. Several of the capabilities have been brought over from Apple’s HomePod smart speaker (pictured). According to the report, the device would be Apple’s “most ambitious” smart home product to date should it be released, but development is in an early stage and the iPhone maker could still decide to cancel the project.
Bloomberg’s tipsters cautioned that the same is true for the other smart home gadget Apple is developing. The device reportedly combines a HomePod speaker with a screen, possibly in the form of an iPad held by a robotic arm. The idea of adding a robotic arm is said to have been floated as a way of enabling the device to follow the user around the room similarly to Amazon’s Echo Show smart display, which can swivel on its base.
The unique device designs might put Apple in a stronger position to win market share from smart speaker leaders Amazon and Google LLC. The two companies, in turn, are also said to be working on new device form factors.
Google is reportedly developing a smart home hub with a built-in radar similar to the one that it ships with some Pixel smartphones. The sensor may be used to power sleep tracking features aimed at helping users monitor their health. Amazon is believed to have a team of more than 800 employees working on an Alexa-powered home robot.
In Apple’s core smartphone market, the company’s competitors are also testing new form factors. One recent report suggested that Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. is developing a double-folding phone to join its growing lineup of reconfigurable handsets. Given its rivals’ ongoing efforts to expand their consumer hardware portfolios with new product designs, it’s not surprising that Apple is moving in that direction as well.
In the longer term, the iPhone maker is also expected to introduce a series of mixed-reality devices. Reports indicate Apple could launch the first device in the lineup as early as next year.
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