Home technology has been advancing at quite the clip over the past couple years, and it looks like Apple is ready to jump in. While late to the game – Amazon’s Dot and Google Home have both been on the market for a while – Apple seems to be gearing up to bring their network functionality to the table. The Apple speaker is expected to run Siri, the assistant iPhone users are familiar with, and operate on a modified iOS platform. You will be able to ask it to stream Apple Music, set timers and reminders, activate smart home devices like lightbulbs, and more.
Most of this info comes from leaker Sonny Dickson, whose track record with predicting Apple releases is quite accurate. Dickson also says the official announcement to come at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Diego between June 5-9. The Apple speaker is expected to use Beats technology, which the tech giant acquired back in 2014. There are also rumours that a Beats microphone and facial recognition technology from acquired startups Faceshift and Emotient will supplement Siri, which occasionally struggled on handheld iPhones. It wouldn’t be the first home speaker with a camera, though – Amazon’s recently-announced Echo Look uses one to take photos, recommend outfits, and potentially even recognize moods.
Well OK, but what does this all mean for music? The obvious Apple Music streaming feature is a big one. When you use Siri on an iPhone it only plays music from official Apple apps, so the speaker may do the same. If so, this has the potential to be a huge power move to edge out other streaming services like Spotify. Apple networks like AirPlay and HomeKit makes seamless connections between Apple devices especially attractive to customers – it’s just so dang easy to hook up. And if everybody with an existing Apple product goes for their speaker, you could see how Apple Music might boom. Might as well get the speaker if you already have the phone, laptop, or TV ready to connect, right? Plus, having the Beats name would reel in folks as well. Their headphones are arguably overpriced/underpowered, but name recognition alone could be enough to bump sales. Until the official announcement it’s all pure speculation, but nevertheless quite indicative of the growth of streaming tech and where it’s taking us.
For more rumours and information on the Apple home speaker, check out these articles by Forbes and Tech Radar – they get much more in depth with the technical stuff. And if you’re a Windows user, keep in mind that Microsoft is rumoured to be working on a Cortana-powered home speaker system as well. Lots of wait-and-see still to come! (in the meantime if you want to see a funny and slightly-NSFW example of the usefulness of home speakers gone wrong, click here)