Apple’s Amazon Echo-like Smart Home Device Enters Prototype Testing Phase

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Blooomberg reports that Apple is going full steam ahead with its Amazon Echo-like device that will be based on Siri. The project was under research and development for over two years but has now entered testing phase.

The product is now being secretly tested by Apple engineers in their homes.

Similar to Amazon Echo, this new device from Apple can be used to control home appliances and other devices around you using voice commands. While the product has reached prototype testing phase, it could still be scrapped by the company.

The product is being developed by the hardware and Siri team inside Apple. The latter team was reorganised last year and divided into four groups: web search, proactive assistance, speech recognition, and Siri itself. The web search team’s job is to circumvent Siri searches from going through Google’s server and instead ensure they go through Apple’s own server.a

Apple was earlier planning on integrating Amazon Echo-like functionality into the Apple TV that would have allowed users to shout commands to their TV. The company abandoned that idea in favor of a remote control that could be used to issue voice commands which Apple now ships with the fourth generation Apple TV.

Apple has been toying around with an Amazon Echo-like device since 2014 when it first released HomeKit. It was working on Siri-powered speakers, similar to Amazon Echo, that would be available in two different sizes. However, the final product from Apple may not be based on its early prototypes.

The report also states that Apple is working on improving Siri further. While Apple has made continuous improvements to Siri over the years, it still trails behind Google’s virtual assistant. The Cupertino company is now working on a project codenamed “Invisible Hand” that would allow Apple users to fully control their devices using Siri voice commands. Apple is hoping to integrate this technology into Siri within three years. Apple is also considering opening this technology for third-party apps.

[Via Bloomberg]