Report: Apple’s Siri home hub has reached the prototype stage

Apple’s rumored standalone Siri home control hub may be getting closer to a reality, according to a new report from Bloomberg. Rumors earlier this year suggested that Apple was working on a standalone “Siri home speaker” that would rival Amazon’s Echo, with subsequent reports suggesting that it might go farther than merely being an Echo-like speaker, integrating a camera and possibly other technology. Citing people familiar with the project, the latest Bloomberg report reveals that it’s been in the works for more than two years, and has now reached the prototype testing stage where key Apple employees are now using prototypes of the device in their own homes.
The new device would allow users to control HomeKit accessories in much the same way as currently possible when using Siri on the iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, or Apple Watch, although sources suggest that it will go beyond simply providing a basic “Hey Siri” interface, possibly also adding a camera with facial recognition technology likely built from Apple’s recent acquisitions of Faceshift and Emotient. This would theoretically allow the device to detect who is in the room to allow it to more proactively apply HomeKit rules and other actions. Much like Amazon’s Alexa, Siri will also reportedly be able to respond to non-HomeKit commands on the device, such as reading e-mails, sending text messages, and streaming content from Apple Music; vocal or facial recognition could also play a part in helping to identify the specific user making a request for messages or emails.

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