Apple is working on a device to rival the Amazon Echo, and sources say the firm is considering incorporating a camera into its own unique spin on the device. This would enable it to detect who happens to be in the room and tailor features such as lighting and music to suit that user’s preferences.
It is believed that the hardware will be released some time next year, although there is an outside chance it could be on the market by the end of this year.
Apple is the latest firm trying to get a piece of the success Amazon has been enjoying with Echo, its Bluetooth-enabled digital home assistant. The Echo device is voice-activated and can be used to carry out functions such as controlling home appliances, retrieving information, playing music, and even ordering pizza. Google also recently announced that it would be releasing its own similar device, which will be known as Google Home.
Potential security risks
However, none of the current offerings have cameras. While such a move would certainly have some advantages, such as the ability to get visual confirmation before sharing sensitive data, there are also legitimate concerns about privacy. Proponents insist there is nothing to worry about if the camera is automatically turned off and people must opt in to use it.
Experts believe Apple is unlikely to move forward with any plans to place a camera in this device unless it is certain that it can be secure. Apple has long been focused on ensuring user privacy and security, a point that was underscored by the firm’s privacy battle with the FBI this year.
Apple’s Siri was at the forefront of digital personal assistants when it was launched, and a standalone device featuring the technology has been rumored for quite some time. Some reports indicate that the device could be nothing more than an update to Apple TV that uses a built-in microphone and speaker, while others indicate it will be a freestanding speaker.
Some observers believe the device could spot individuals as soon as they walk in the door and could be used to disable alarms, for example. It would likely incorporate Apple’s HomeKit and AirPlay, among other features.
Apple has not yet made any official comments on its plans. All eyes will be on Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) when it starts on June 13 in San Francisco to see if any announcements are made in this regard.