Apple Hints New Siri Device Will Add an Unexpected Feature

Apple Hints New Siri Device Will Add an Unexpected Feature
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During a March trip to Bengaluru, India, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller, sat down for a brief interview with Gadgets 360, during which he was asked for his comments on standalone virtual assistant products such as Amazon’s Echo and Google Home. Interestingly, while Schiller declined to address any of those devices by name, saying that “My mother used to have a saying that if you don’t have something nice to say, say nothing at all,” he did go on to express his sentiments that Apple “believes deeply in voice-driven assistants.” Citing Apple’s ongoing development of its Siri virtual-assistant platform as evidence of said dedication, Schiller went on to take an apparent jab at other voice-assistant manufacturers and how their product’s “functionality is limited,” since they’re designed to rely almost entirely on verbal input from the end-user in order to respond to commands or answer questions, and here is where the interview gets more interesting.

Apple’s Siri Device Might Feature a Touchscreen Display

“We think it’s important to — that there are times when it’s convenient to simply use your voice when you are not able to use the screen,” Schiller said. “For example, if you’re driving and you want Siri to work for you without having to look at the screen, that’s the best thing. Or maybe you’re across the room, and you want to ask Siri to change the song you were listening to — you don’t have to walk over and back.” On the whole, Schiller’s sentiments were that “a voice assistant without a screen is limited in its utility,” specifically adding “The idea of not having a screen, I don’t think suits many situations.”

Schiller’s comments are particularly interesting in light of Apple’s rumored work on, and intention to soon release, a standalone Siri-enabled speaker, which could be unveiled at next month’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2017. While details about the device are somewhat scant, rumors have thus far indicated that it will largely resemble Apple’s cylindrical Mac Pro computer, feature high-quality audio output with a dedicated subwoofer and seven tweeters, and will run a CPU that’s as powerful as Apple’s A8 or A9 SoC. The device could also feature a touchscreen component of some sort, which was rumored by famed serial leaker, Sonny Dickson, just last week.

Even more interesting, however: as rumors surrounding an Apple-branded Siri-only speaker system continue to captive the rumor mill, Amazon also appears to be preparing a touchscreen- and camera-equipped Echo flagship device of its very own, which will more than likely go head-to-head with Apple’s Siri speaker.

Amazon Might Also Give Alexa a Touchscreen Display

As you can see in the low-resolution image below, which was discovered on Amazon’s servers by AFTVNews, the device appears to be an Echo-style unit, though it boasts a large touchscreen and front-mounted camera module atop a mesh-covered speaker array at the bottom of the unit. The AFTVNews report alleged that the Echo flagship device, known internally as “Knight,” will more than likely be released as early as this month.

If indeed that’s the case, Amazon’s release of an Alexa-powered, touchscreen-equipped flagship Echo device would be positioned to compete head-on with whatever it is Apple has in store for us at WWDC next month. In the interim, we’ll keep you updated if any new details about these forthcoming devices emerge.

[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]

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