Apple has begun manufacturing its long-awaited Siri-powered smart speaker to rival the likes of Amazon Echo and Google Home in the AI virtual assistant speaker department.
According to Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the matter, the device could be debuted at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) next week – though it will not be ready for shipping until later this year.
The device will, reportedly, differ from the Echo and Home by offering virtual surround sound technology and deep integration with Apple’s product lineup.
Last month, the often reliable KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo told clients that there was ‘over 50 per cent chance’ of Apple unveiling its device at WWDC, stating it would most likely cost more than an Echo. He also stated that it would go on sale in the second half of the year to compete with new Amazon Echo models to be launched. The latest news seems to confirm all of this.
The people familiar with the matter also confirmed Kuo’s beliefs that Inventec, which assembles Apple’s AirPods, will be the contract manufacturer.
The Apple smart speaker would provide a hub to automate smart lighting and appliances around households via Apple’s Homekit and, seeing as the Echo and Home don’t support Apple services for the most part, put it in a very competitive position as soon as it enters the market.