Apple Patent Hints at Amazon Echo Killer

Apple is seriously thinking about an Amazon Echo competitor, a new patent filing suggests.

The folks over at Patently Apple have uncovered an Apple patent filing describing a device from the company that would act much like Amazon's smart home appliance. According to Patently Apple, the company doesn't discuss all the features in the device, but says that it will come with a speaker and use Siri for vocal commands.

The Echo could soon have even more competition. Credit: Amazon

(Image credit: The Echo could soon have even more competition. Credit: Amazon)

The patent itself focuses much of its energy on Siri. Specifically, the patent describes how a person's request through the virtual assistant would route the appropriate action to several different devices in the home. So, for instance, if you want to place a call and tell Siri as much, it could route the function to your iPhone. But if you want to listen to music, it might go to your Echo-like Apple speaker. Information on activity tracking would go to the Apple Watch.

The patent follows a slew of rumors of late suggesting Apple is working on an Amazon Echo competitor. Over the last several months, in fact, reports have been swirling that Apple has compiled a team of engineers to work on a device that would run Siri, play music throughout the home, and give users the opportunity to control their smart home. It's also possible the device could have other tasks and integrate with third-party apps like the Echo does.

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Apple, of course, has remained silent on its plans, but the company has indicated in recent years that the smart home could play a prominent role in its product mix. Adding a smart home appliance that works much the same way as Echo or Google Home could help Apple boost its presence in is becoming a big market.

In order for Apple to deliver the functionality outlined in the patent, the company has a two-tiered system in which a primary device chosen to fulfill the command once a request is made. In the event of someone asking for a movie, for instance, Siri might route the request to the iPhone, the primary device, and then play it on the television, or the secondary device.

The feature also has safeguards in place for authentication to ensure only authorized users can make requests and get what they want.

While the patent application is by no means a smoking gun, it suggests Apple is thinking seriously about smart home initiatives and how to create hubs around the home. Amazon Echo and Google Home, in other words, might be in its crosshairs.