Earlier this month, Apple’s Phil Schiller made it known that he believes a display is still essential for a voice assistant, even for something like the Amazon Echo.
Lo and behold, earlier today Amazon officially announced another brand new member of the Echo family (following the unveiling of the Echo Look), the Echo Show. This smart speaker shares plenty of the same features as the standard Echo, with Alexa on board, but it also boasts a 7-inch touchscreen display, which, as Amazon puts it, lets Alexa “show you things.” It will also help owners make video calls, check a visual on the weather, and more.
Today, in Bloomberg‘s coverage of the Amazon Echo Show, the publication had a couple of interesting tidbits regarding Apple’s own plans with its oft-rumored smart speaker. According to the publication, Apple has had employees testing an in-home smart speaker competitor for months now. However, while Schiller has talked up a screen on devices like the Echo, there’s still some question as to whether or not Apple’s own smart speaker will feature a display of any kind:
“Apple employees have been testing a device at home for several months, according to people familiar with the matter. While marketing chief Phil Schiller recently talked up the benefits of having a screen on a voice-activated device, it’s not clear whether the Apple version will in fact have one.”
The latest reports regarding Apple’s unofficial smart speaker have told us that it could be showcased as early as this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference, and that it could share a similar design with the Mac Pro, with touch controls placed on the top. If Apple does pan on unveiling it in June, it would not be surprising to hear that testing has been going on for months already.
One other interesting point in the coverage is in regards to Apple Music. The Amazon Echo Show allows for owners to play music from a variety of different services, but, as of right now, Apple Music isn’t one of them. While the safe bet at this point is that Apple would want to position streaming Apple Music from its own smart speaker as a selling point, and therefore blocking it from other speakers, nothing’s a guarantee just yet.
What’s more, Amazon would be more than happy to have Apple Music subscribers stream their music from their speaker:
“The new Echo will stream music from Amazon’s own service, Spotify and Pandora, but not Apple Music. “We’d love to have Apple, but they’re not super big” on opening up Apple Music integration, Limp says. (Apple Music subscribers can do a workaround by streaming audio from their smartphone to the Echo device via Bluetooth.)”
As it stands right now, all the signs seem to be pointing to Apple working on its own smart speaker. Do you plan on buying one if it does indeed become a real device?