Apple's long-rumored answer to the Amazon Echo smart speaker is now being tested in secret in the homes of Apple engineers, Bloomberg reports. The report, which cites sources familiar with the matter, also says that the device includes built-in cameras capable of distinguishing between users and even detecting their emotions, which would corroborate a .
The device is reportedly designed to function similarly to the, a voice-activated smart home speaker that showcases the online retailer's virtual assistant, Alexa. With , Alexa and the Echo can stream music, answer questions, run optional voice apps called "skills," and control smart home devices.
Apple's device would obviously feature Siri, and Bloomberg reports that the Cupertino company is hard at work on improving her conversational intelligence to fill a larger role in the home. Dedicated voice controls forand for devices designed to work with HomeKit, , both seem like very safe bets. Phone-based interactions that would let the speaker read off things like emails, text messages and tweets are also reportedly in the works.
As for the inclusion of cameras that can recognize your face and read your emotions, Bloomberg reports that they're featured in "some" of the prototypes currently being tested, and points to. If the cameras end up making the final cut, they could help to differentiate the device from the Echo and from the , another smart home speaker currently making its way to retail.
An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment on the matter.