Is Apple almost ready to release its Siri-powered Amazon Echo rival?

Apple has been rumoured to be working on its own smart speaker, and rival to Amazon’s popular Echo device, for some time.

Despite the rumours, last we heard was that the company had no interest in developing such a product, as a TIME column from industry consultant Tim Bajarin back in February claimed Apple was more concerned with bringing Siri to more and more existing devices.

Executives allegedly implied to Bajarin that the firm was not developing a stand-alone Siri-powered speaker, but now, new claims from a well-known source have provided conflicting information.

Related: Apple AR headset – What we know

Sonny Dickson took to Twitter to provide a few updates, claiming Apple is “currently finalising designs for their Alexa competitor”.

According to Dickson, the device will also come with Beats technology on-board, and “is expected to run a variant iOS”.

https://twitter.com/statuses/857584905982693379

Dickson has a decent track record, accurately calling iOS 10’s new-look lockscreen before it arrived – though he fails to provide any details on where he got this latest information from.

Which means you should take it all with a pinch of salt for the time being, especially considering the earlier reports of Apple’s disinterest in such a product.

That said, commentators have argued Apple is losing ground in the smart home market, as rivals Amazon and Google push ahead with their own range of AI-assisted smart speakers.

Just this week, Amazon added to its Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Tap lineup with a new device in the form of the Echo Look – a camera-packing device with Alexa that helps users organise their various outfits, as well as providing the usual smart speaker functionality.

amazon echo lookAmazon this week launched its new Echo Look – a camera-packing smart speaker

Google has already launched its Google Home speaker in both the US and UK, and will no doubt be building its smart home range of products and services in the coming months.

If Apple does push ahead with its own rival device, Dickson’s latest update claims it will incorporate AirPlay support, which would allow users to stream music and podcasts to the device over Wi-Fi.

Just what the Beats technology will be remains unclear, as does everything else about this. Apple is yet to confirm anything at this point but we could hear more soon.

The company is gearing up for its Worldwide Developers Conference, which takes place from June 5 to June 9, so we could hear more about the rumoured smart speaker then. Stay tuned.

Let us know what you make of the latest rumblings in the comments.