It’s been a few years since we’ve seen Apple enter a brand new hardware category, but that may change in just a few weeks once WWDC gets underway in early June. According to a research note from Ming-Chi Kuo that was circulated widely last week, Apple has been busy developing a Siri-based product designed to go head-to-head with Amazon’s Echo. Even better, Kuo says there’s a 50% chance Apple will introduce the device at Apple’s upcoming developer conference. The device will reportedly incorporate Beats audio technology and will deliver premium-level acoustics.

As Kuo noted in a research report obtained by MacRumors, the device will feature “one woofer and seven tweeters and computing power similar to iPhone 6/6S.” And while not much else is known about the rumored product, Apple executive Phil Schiller may have recently shed some light on what type of differentiating features the device will bring to the table.

During a recent interview with Gadgets 360, Schiller was asked to share his thoughts on devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home. While not singling out one device in particular, Schiller intimated that both devices were nothing special before seemingly implying that adding a screen interface to a smart speaker system might be a smart move.

Schiller specifically noted that while voice-based intelligent assistants can be helpful, he referenced a few examples where having a screen interface serves a complementary purpose.

So there’s many moments where a voice assistant is really beneficial, but that doesn’t mean you’d never want a screen. So the idea of not having a screen, I don’t think suits many situations. For example if I’m looking for directions and I’m using Maps, Siri can tell me those directions by voice and that’s really convenient but it’s even better if I can see that map, and I can see what turns are coming up, and I can see where there is congestion, I understand better my route, and what I’m going to do.

Or, for example, with photography, and one of the most popular reasons for our products is photography now, and photography requires a screen. So the idea of a device without a screen, well it’s not really useful for that whole category of photos that we all share. and all the social networking apps that are now embracing photos more and more, well, it doesn’t work really so great in voice-only assistants.

Schiller obviously didn’t confirm anything, but it’s more than a bit interesting that when asked about a product like the Amazon Echo, Schiller began waxing poetic on how important screens are, adding that the “role of the screen is gonna remain very important to all of this.”

Interestingly enough, images of an unreleased Amazon Echo device with a full-fledged display emerged last week. Rumor has it that this unnamed device will be positioned as the premier product within Amazon’s burgeoning Alexa-based lineup.

View Comments