Earlier this week we learned about Apple’s plans to build “an Amazon Echo-like device.”
You shouldn’t be surprised by that: Amazon Echo is an extremely popular product, and Google will soon release a similar product called Home.
But here’s what is surprising: Apple doesn’t plan to make a completely separate device just to house Siri.
According to a new report from VentureBeat, Apple is going to put all of the functionality of an Amazon Echo/Google Home inside its Apple TV hardware.
This actually makes a lot of sense. The Apple TV works similarly to the Echo, in that it always stays plugged into a wall and it leverages your home’s WiFi to operate. The current Apple TV, which was introduced late last year, also supports Siri so you can control aspects of the Apple TV, like search and navigation, using your voice.
The Siri-powered Apple TV has been out for less than a year, and it wouldn’t take much to convert it into an Echo competitor. Just add a bunch of microphones and a speaker system — or at least the ability to connect to a speaker system, like Amazon’s Echo Dot — and boom! You’d have a bona fide personal assistant for your home.
According to VentureBeat’s report, this is exactly what Apple discussed internally. They decided not to build a standalone Siri device a la Echo, and simply add a microphone and speaker system to the Apple TV hardware.
We might expect this redesigned Apple TV to drop later this year, just in time for the holidays. Apple will reportedly lay the groundwork for this hardware by releasing a software development kit (SDK) for Siri, which will let developers plug Siri into their applications. Right now, Siri only works with a handful of apps, but all of those were done in close partnership with Apple. This Siri SDK will open things up considerably, which is necessary for a future Apple TV to have the same kind of openness that the Amazon Echo currently has.
You can check out VentureBeat for the full report. We expect more news about Siri, and maybe even this new Apple TV product, at Apple’s annual developer conference WWDC next month.