According to Bloomberg, Apple is manufacturing a Siri-controlled smart speaker that could debut as soon as its annual developer conference in June. “The device will differ from Amazon’s Echo and Alphabet’s Google Home speakers by offering virtual surround sound technology and deep integration with Apple’s product lineup,” reports Bloomberg. From the report: Introducing a speaker would serve two main purposes: providing a hub to automate appliances and lights via Apple’s HomeKit system, and establishing a bulwark inside the home to lock customers more tightly into Apple’s network of services. That would help combat the competitive threat from Google’s and Amazon’s connected speakers: the Home and Echo mostly don’t support services from Apple. Without compatible hardware, users may be more likely to opt for the Echo or Home, and therefore use streaming music offerings such as Spotify, Amazon Prime Music or Google Play rather than Apple Music. Apple hopes that more advanced acoustics technology will give the speaker an edge over competitors, according to people with knowledge of the product’s development. Along with generating virtual surround sound, the speakers being tested are louder and reproduce sound more crisply than rival offerings, the people said. Apple has also considered including sensors that measure a room’s acoustics and automatically adjust audio levels during use, one of the people said. Apple will also likely let third-party services build products for the speaker. The device will be a hub for Apple’s HomeKit home automation system, letting users control devices such as lights, door locks and window blinds.
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