Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Rumored Siri Speaker

I think we will see a “Siri Speaker” soon enough. The latest rumors indicate an announcement at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) next month. Weather, stocks, movie times, etc. are table stakes. Here’s what I believe Apple needs to do in order for the Siri speaker to be more than a novelty.

The Why

Some think it doesn’t make sense for Apple to introduce a standalone Siri Speaker, but I disagree. I own my share of Apple devices, and while I have multiple avenues to use Siri, there’s something to be said about a digital assistant that doesn’t move. You know it’s always there and not accidentally left in another room. Also, I have found smart speakers to be faster at initial engagement than other devices mentioned.

Communal Device

Let’s face it–Apple makes personal devices, but living room smart speakers are largely communal. How will Apple be able to deliver you personal results? Here’s what I envision.


By using Hey Siri and Handoff. Here’s a few scenarios I think could work:

  • Phone is near the Siri Speaker and the screen is off: it could function similarly to the Apple Watch (reading back the answer to your question) and an option to hand off to your iPhone via the lockscreen. In other words, your phone wouldn’t respond to Hey Siri directly, but you could easily follow up.
  • Phone is near the Siri Speaker and the screen is on: process the command only on the phone.
  • Phone is not nearby the Siri Speaker: process the command only on the speaker.

Family Sharing

By linking Siri Speaker to a Family Sharing account, you can grant the speaker access to each family member’s Apple ID, which would be the backbone for providing relevant information.

User Identification

The most obvious way to do this is voice recognition (just for fun, let’s call it VoiceID). If you have set up “Hey Siri” on your device, Apple already has a profile for your voice. If a voice matches one linked to on the Family Sharing account, the speaker could then serve up user-based information (calendar events, reminders, texting contacts, etc.). Guests would only have access to the basics (weather, sports scores, Wikipedia, etc.).

HomeKit Integration (Smart Home)

This has to be a given. The Siri Speaker could supplement and/or replace AppleTV and iPad as the HomeKit hub. Integration of VoiceID could restrict control of certain devices, too.

iMessage and Phone Calls

I would love to text and/or call someone from my couch. Using VoiceID, Siri could reference my contacts and know who to message/call when I use their name.

Ping Phone

Using VoiceID, Siri Speaker could ping your phone (similar to Apple Watch).


Third-party apps could provide Siri Speaker functionality inside their iOS apps. If enabled from the Family Sharing Organizer, the functionality becomes available on the speaker.