An Apple-made Amazon Echo clone? Don’t bank on it

Apple may not be planning to build a Siri-powered rival for the Amazon Echo or Google Home speakers, despite lingering fears it may be losing ground in the smart home arena.

A column appearing on Time over the weekend cites discussions with Apple executives who apparently intimated there were no plans to enter this space.

The piece, written by industry consultant Tim Bajarin, claims Apple is more concerned with bringing Siri to more and more devices.

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He wrote: “Despite Amazon’s success, Apple has no apparent interest in copying the Echo. After talking with Apple executives, I’ve come away with the impression that they’re more interested in turning Siri into an omnipresent AI assistant across devices, rather than designing a single device specifically to serve as a Siri machine.”

Apple has already added Siri smarts to iOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS devices, as well as accessories like AirPods.

Reports last year claimed Apple was working on a home speaker as part of a wider push to improve and expand Siri.

In iOS 10 the company gave Siri a big boost by opening it up to third-party apps for the first time, which could, in turn, open the door for the AI assistant to rival Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant in a standalone device.

The hugely successful Amazon Echo continues to lead the way in this space, while Google Home has showed some early potential since launching last autumn.

Both also service as smart home hub for a number of the leading products. While HomeKit-enabled devices now have a dedicated hub within Apple’s operating systems, a dedicated device could broaden the possibilities.

While this report casts doubt on whether Apple will ever release an Echo clone, we certainly wouldn’t rule it out.

Given Apple now has Beats expertise in-house there’d certainly be an opportunity to better the audio quality offered by the Google Home and Amazon Echo.

The more likely scenario may be a refreshed Apple TV box with enhanced Siri capabilities that could see greater integration of the HomeKit platform.

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