Apple could announce the Siri speaker at WWDC next week, although it wouldn't be ready to ship until later this year, Bloomberg reports, citing people familiar with the matter. Although Siri first launched in 2011, long before voice assistants from Google and Amazon, users must currently interact with it via Apple's existing products, including Macs, iPhones and the Apple TV.
Giving Siri its own dedicated speaker would allow Apple to ride the more recent phenomenon of always-listening voice assistants that can perform home automation tasks -- via Apple's HomeKit protocol -- in addition to looking up sports scores and reading weather reports. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
While the rumored Apple speaker would directly compete with the Echo and Google Home, Siri has had a rudimentary ability to constantly listen and respond to "Hey, Siri" commands since the iPhone 6s was introduced in September 2015. But that experience falls far short of what a dedicated speaker offers, since it relies on your phone's speakers and microphone to do the listening and the talking.
Rumors of a Siri speaker raises the question of what Microsoft has in the works to keep its Cortana voice assistant competitive. The Cortana-powered Harman Kardon Invoke speaker is one possibility. Announced last month, the Invoke is scheduled to ship this fall. This week, Microsoft also teased a digital assistant from HP, a small puck-like speaker akin to the Amazon Echo Dot.
"The new HP digital assistant featuring Cortana is a standalone personal assistant device that does not need to connect to a Windows 10 PC to provide a complete intelligent speaker experience," Microsoft said in a statement to The Verge. It's unclear when it will go on sale.