Apple is getting ready to go head-to-head with Amazon with its own smart home hub similar to the latter’s Echo.
The system will be very similar in functionality, allowing user’s to interact with it via Siri, Apple’s voice-activated AI assistant; Amazon’s devices, meanwhile, feature its Alexa system. Users will be able to control connected home appliances such as lights and locks, and could also tell Siri to draft text messages or to stream music.
Adding some credibility to reported leaks from earlier this year, the system could also use facial recognition to identify the users with whom it’s interacting, and Bloomberg reports that it could even detect and respond to their emotional states.
Such a feature would help to differentiate Apple’s offering more clearly from Amazon’s devices, with Apple having followed in close pursuit of Amazon as the latter increasingly secured its technology’s position in the emerging smart home. For example, Apple announced earlier this year that it would open its Siri platform to third-party developers, evidently in an attempt to foster the kind of rapid evolution in AI that Amazon has fostered by opening up the Alexa SDK.
Apple hasn’t officially confirmed its Echo rival, but with Google preparing its own smart home hub and the IoT continuing to blossom, the race to control users’ smart homes is starting to heat up, and Apple likely doesn’t want to be left behind.