When developers gather in San Jose next week for Apple's annual conference, there could be a new voice-powered speaker waiting to greet them.
Bloomberg reports that Apple has begun assembling a speaker powered by its Siri digital assistant that you'll control with your voice. While the speaker won't ship until later this year, Bloomberg's report says the device could make its debut at the Worldwide Developer Conference, which kicks off with a Monday, June 5 keynote.
Apple's behind the curve when it comes to voice-powered speakers. Amazon has dominated the nascent speaker market so far with its Echo offerings, which are controlled by the Alexa voice assistant. Google unveiled its Google Home speaker a year ago and recently announced an update that will let you make phone calls from the speaker. Even Microsoft's Cortana is going to wind up on a speaker, with the Harmon Kardon-built device arriving this fall.
How does Apple make its Siri-powered device stand out from that crowd? According to Bloomberg, the focus will be on sound, with the Siri speaker reportedly delivering surround sound and possibly featuring sensors that can adjust audio quality based on a room's acoustics. Also, expect Apple's speaker to integrate with the company's services such as the HomeKit smart home platform and Apple Music streaming music offerings, to name just two obvious candidates.
WWDC typically doesn't introduce a lot of new hardware to the mix, but it makes sense for Apple to show off its planned speaker there, especially if, as rumored, it's going to mean greater integration between the Siri assistant and third-party apps and services.
A year ago at WWDC, Apple opened up Siri to selected types of third party apps. You can use the assistant to arrange a ride through Uber or Lyft, for example, or make mobile payments through an app like Venmo. But if a Siri-powered speaker is to compete with Amazon's Alexa and its multitude of skills, Apple is going to have to boost the number of apps that can tap into Siri's powers.
A Siri-powered speaker may not be the only hardware popping up during WWDC next week. Other rumors say that Apple may unveil new MacBooks and iPads during the developer conference. We're certainly expecting to hear more about Apple's plans for its software, including the iOS, macOS and watchOS platforms.