Apple Reportedly Originally Planned to Launch HomePod Without Siri

Apple started selling its first smart speaker, the HomePod, earlier this year. And while the device’s sound performance was heralded all over the place, one of its major drawbacks for many reviewers and users was tied specifically to the company’s digital personal assistant, Siri.

In a new, in-depth report from The Information, which is entitled, “The Seven-Year Itch: How Apple’s Marriage to Siri Turned Sour“, the publication looks at the development over the years of Apple’s digital personal assistant. And, more specifically, how in the recent years the feature has waned in its effectiveness compared to the leading competitors from Google and Amazon.

The full report is certainly worth checking out (you’ll need a subscription to the publication to read it), and there are plenty of elements to take out of it. However, perhaps one of the more curious elements, is the detail that the HomePod might not have been originally designed to be a smart speaker at all, but just an advanced speaker that focused entirely on audio quality — because a digital personal assistant wasn’t on board at all.

According to the report, the Siri team was not made aware of the HomePod at all until 2015 — after Amazon had already unveiled the Echo smart speaker with Alexa built in. Apple was apparently working on the HomePod to just be an audiophile’s dream, without having any smarts built in. But the inclusion of Alexa in the Echo apparently forced Apple’s hand.

The report also indicates that Siri’s infrastructure was not built to withstand the pressure of so many users. Siri’s popularity exploded when it launched, thanks to being on the iPhone, and, as such, the backend was unreliable at best. That meant Apple has had to focus its attention on modernizing the infrastructure, taking time from proper development of the feature overall.

Still, it sounds like the majority of the engineering issues have been ironed out, and Apple may finally be able to focus on what comes next for the digital personal assistant.

The full article is available through the source link below.

Our Take

Siri isn’t the best part of the HomePod, and this report would seem to line up with Apple’s marketing focus on making sure everyone knows the best part of the HomePod is its audio quality. The fact that Siri was an add-on, so to speak, would line up with the end result. However, if the report is accurate, it means that Apple has finally cleared the last of the technological hurdles it had built up over the years, and we may finally see some exciting updates to Siri this year at WWDC 2018 — which kicks off on June 4.

[via The Information]