http://www.digitaljournal.com/tech-and-science/technology/apple-s-take-on-the-amazon-echo-could-be-unveiled-in-june/article/491400

Apple's take on the Amazon Echo could be unveiled in June

Posted Apr 28, 2017 by James Walker
Apple could unveil its own smart speaker built to rival Amazon's Echo and Google's Home as early as this June. The company is reportedly close to finalising the device's design ahead of a public reveal at its WWDC developers event in early summer.
The Amazon Echo smart speaker with Amazon s Alexa digital assistant
The Amazon Echo smart speaker with Amazon's Alexa digital assistant
Amazon
Respected Australian Apple leaker Sonny Dickson shared details about the long-rumoured device with news site MacRumors in an article published today. Although the claims have not been verified, they corroborate earlier reports on Apple's plans for its own smart speaker.
The device will be based on the same principles Google has employed for the Home. It'll be minimalist and designed to blend into your house while carrying its own distinctive look. As is typical of other Apple products, it's likely to be noticeable but simultaneously unobtrusive.
Dickson described the overall look as "fat" with a similar base to the Google Home. It has a concave top that houses the integrated control panel. The speaker will be available in two different sizes, enabling you to buy the model that best suits your home. This is an approach also favoured by Amazon which offers its Alexa-powered Echo in two different forms.
Apple's take on the smart speaker category is believed to include facial recognition sensors for use when identifying the user. Previous reports have revealed Apple's focusing on four key development areas: Siri integration, proactive assistance, speech recognition and web searches. This depicts the overarching aim for the project as a bid to create a credible rival to Amazon and Google's popular existing products.
Google Home
Google Home
Google
Dickson also revealed Apple's planning to add "some form of Beats technology" to the finished device. Whether this will be purely for marketing purposes or a more sophisticated unique voice recognition system isn't clear. The speaker will run on a specially customised version of iOS, the same operating system currently used on the iPhone and iPad.
The product will offer similar functionality to the Echo and Google Home. Controlled primarily through voice commands, you'll be able to check the news, get weather alerts and manage your calendar. There'll also be strong support for connecting to Internet of Things devices, letting you dim the lights or send commands to home appliances using only your voice.
Back in September, Bloomberg revealed Apple had begun production of prototype smart speaker units. Now over six months on, the project is likely to be nearing completion, making a public unveiling at WWDC likely. The company has launched hardware at its Worldwide Developers Conference before, although it is primarily a software event. Apple will also use the time to debut new versions of its iOS and macOS operating systems.
Assuming the reports are accurate, an Apple smart speaker would give the company a presence in the Internet of Things. It is currently conspicuously absent from the market, leaving rivals Amazon and Google to dominate the space. At present, Amazon is taking Apple's regular seat in the competition against Google. Apple will now use its Siri-powered device to disrupt the status quo and add a third major ecosystem to the list of popular smart speakers.