Apple Reportedly Looking To Create Competitor To Amazon Echo

With the iPod, iPhone, and iPad, Apple led the charge to make new personal digital products accessible, popular, and now all but necessary. But the electronics giant may now be playing catch-up to Amazon in the connected-home market, as the e-tailer’s Echo device and its various spinoffs become more affordable and functional. Now comes news that Apple is looking to build a connected-home speaker/assistant of its own to go head-to-head with Echo.

This is according to Bloomberg, citing the ever-chatty but ever-shy “people familiar with the matter.” They say that Apple has been tinkering with an Echo-like product for around two years.

Like the Echo, this in-development Apple product would allow users to control an array of other connected home devices and systems, like lights and door locks. Bloomberg reports that Apple has also tested new functionalities like facial recognition that could help differentiate the eventual product from Echo.

If this Apple device ever becomes a reality, it could face a crowded marketplace. Earlier this year, Google pulled back the curtains on Google Home, its take on the connected-home hub, which may have the added advantage of being under the same corporate umbrella as Nest — makers of connected thermostats, smoke alarms, and security cameras — and Google’s Chromecast line of audio and video connectors.

One advantage an Apple hub might have is better integration across multiple devices. Amazon has Fire tablets that work with Echo’s Alexa voice-operated assistant, but these low-cost devices do not have the same market penetration or app support that the iPad or iPhone does. Likewise, while Google’s Android mobile operating system is wildly popular, its deployment varies from one phone manufacturer to the next, and can also depend on the device’s wireless provider. Since Apple’s iOS is only on Apple devices, the company may be able to offer a home hub with more seamless integration.

Of course, until Apple unveils a device (or until dozens of leaked photos and videos of it are posted online), this is all speculation.