Apple's Version Of A Connected Speaker To Debut Later This Year

That product was created to more closely resemble a Sonos-like Wifi-connected device without a smart assistant, and was killed by Apple following the acquisition. Sources say Apple employees have been testing the speaker in their homes for several months. Many interpreted that as an indication that Apple was planning to introduce its long-awaited entry to the home automation control market with a device that had a display. If Apple is committed to shipping it, a great Siri Speaker pre-announcement would fire up Apple's developers and fans alike, and blunt the momentum of the other devices out there.

Apple senior vice president Phil Schiller said earlier in May that voice-control devices often need a screen. CEO Tim Cook has recently touted Apple's online services business, which also includes iCloud and its App Store, as a growth engine for the company. That sounds somewhat similar to the TruePlay feature available from Sonos speakers, which uses a microphone on a mobile device to optimize sound output for that specific environment.

Of course, one of the primary focuses will be to push Apple's subscription music service.

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Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference kicks off on Monday, June 5, with an opening keynote. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman reported that Apple has begun manufacturing the device, with Taiwan's Inventec being that manufacturer. Along with generating virtual surround sound, the speakers being tested are louder and reproduce sound more crisply than rival offerings, the people said. Apple last updated the 9.7-inch iPad Pro in March 2016 and hasn't refreshed the larger 12.9-inch model since its November 2015 debut.

The speaker will offer "virtual surround sound technology", which would be a differentiator from its competitors. The company also considered including sensors that would measure a room's acoustics and automatically adjust audio levels. Last year, Apple opened up Siri on the iPhone to the likes of Uber Technologies Inc. and Facebook Inc., allowing a user to order a ride or send a WhatsApp message with a voice command.

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