Apple is expanding its portfolio of products and working on a refreshed Apple TV rather than a new hardware product to compete with Amazon’s Echo, a voice-activated assistant packaged inside a speaker, according to VentureBeat.
No new hardware, but refreshed TV
The Apple TV that was unveiled last year brought the Siri virtual assistant to the set-top box, and now, the company will build on this enhancement. Citing a source familiar with the matter, VentureBeat claims that the problems users face with the existing box and remote control will all be solved with the new version of the set-top box.
The Information reported earlier this week that the iPhone maker plans to build an Amazon Echo-like device with a speaker and microphone. However, VentureBeat says the device will be a new version of the Apple TV. The source informed the website that the company intends to make its TV the hub of everything.
In response to Amazon’s and Google’s strategies, the iPhone maker has reportedly merged Echo-style hardware with a set-top box, which is quite interesting. Google has the Android TV platform and will release Google Home, which is based on Google Assistant, while Amazon has the Fire TV and a growing line of speakers that come with the Alexa voice assistant technology.
Why the Apple TV?
The iPhone firm was reportedly considering several options, such as making the Apple TV’s Siri Remote the key device to turn the existing set-top box into a more comprehensive assistant or even building a standalone speaker just like Echo. However, the company dropped the last option considering the fact that it had spent a lot on developing the Apple TV.
The remote does not have a battery and needs to be charged every now and then with a Lightning cable, and for this reason, it cannot be used as a hub. There is no microphone in the box, and if there were, speech recognition would have become challenging because of the fan noise from a nearby device such as a television.
So eventually the Apple TV will get its own microphone and speaker. The source further informed VentureBeat that the current box is capable of handling dictation, but additional computing infrastructure is required for processing queries and serving up results. The company is reportedly working on this.
The Apple TV is capable of replacing a cable box, and for this reason, it is more than just a set-top box. The source informed the website that the iPhone maker intends to own the living room and the connected home in general; therefore, a more powerful Apple TV will serve as a stronger foundation for the company’s new products.