Will it debut in June?

By Don Reisinger
May 10, 2017

Some Apple employees have been secretly testing as an-yet announced device that could take on Amazon’s new Echo Show smart home hub, according to a recent Bloomberg report.

Apple has given some of its employees prototypes of its upcoming, Siri-powered smart home hub to test at home, the news service is reporting, citing people who claim to have knowledge of the tests. Apple’s employees have been trying out the device at their homes for “several months,” Bloomberg’s sources say.

Rumors have been swirling that Apple AAPL is working on a new smart home hub that could be powered by its virtual personal assistant Siri. While information on possible features has been slow to leak, last week, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that it could come with seven built-in speakers and one subwoofer. It would also be as powerful as the iPhone 6s and could come with a hefty, but unidentified, price.

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One of the big questions surrounding the device is whether it would come with a touchscreen.

Earlier this week, Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller said in an interview that smart home hubs that can control smart home devices, play music, and perform other functions, need a touchscreen. His comments criticized the Amazon Echo and Google Home, two smart home hubs that he didn’t mention by name but don’t come with touchscreens. On Tuesday, however, Amazon announced the Echo Show, a smart home hub it plans to release in June, which comes with a touchscreen. It costs $230.

Despite Schiller’s comments and Amazon’s AMZN new device, Bloomberg’s sources didn’t confirm the prototype the Apple employees are testing will come with a touchscreen.

Although employees have reportedly been testing the Siri-powered device for months, there’s no telling exactly when Apple might release it. However, Kuo told investors last week that there’s a greater than 50% chance it’ll be unveiled at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference keynote on June 5.

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