Apple’s Echo-Like Smart Speaker With Siri and AirPlay Could Debut as Early as WWDC

Apple is widely rumored to be working on a Siri-based smart home device with a speaker, and Australian leaker Sonny Dickson has shared new details about its possible design and features on Twitter and with MacRumors.

Apple's smart speaker could take design cues from the Google Home

Dickson said that Apple is currently "finalizing designs" for the Amazon Echo and Google Home competitor, which he expects to be marketed as a Siri and AirPlay device. "It is believed to carry some form of Beats technology," he added, while noting that the device will run a variant of iOS software.

Dickson later told MacRumors that the device, allegedly codenamed B238 internally, will feature a Mac Pro-like concave top with built-in controls. His source, which he told us is "someone inside Apple," described the device as "fat" like the Google Home with speaker mesh covering the majority of the device.

Dickson was told Apple's smart speaker could be unveiled at WWDC 2017 in early June, but as always, the company's plans could change.

In September 2016, Bloomberg reported that Apple's smart home device had entered prototype testing, including both a larger and a smaller model in line with Amazon's current Echo lineup. However, at the time, the report cautioned that Apple's early efforts do not guarantee that a finalized product will be released.

The report said Apple's smart home device would be able to control appliances, locks, lights, and curtains through Siri voice commands. It added that some of the prototypes in testing include facial recognition sensors, backed by an earlier CNET report claiming the device could have a built-in camera for facial recognition.

Dickson is best known for leaking various iPhone and iPad parts from overseas sources, such as these iPhone 5c rear casings in 2013, but his latest information supposedly comes from a source directly within Apple, an area where his track record is less established. His sources have proven incorrect at times.


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Another ‘iPhone 8’ Design Schematic Shows Vertical Dual Camera and Touch ID on Back of Aluminum Casing

Yet another "iPhone 8" design schematic has surfaced today, this one courtesy of noted leaker Sonny Dickson on Twitter.


The render shows an iPhone with a vertically-positioned dual-lens camera and a Touch ID fingerprint sensor located on the back of the smartphone. It is likely one of several designs that Apple is considering, as multiple reports have said the company has been testing multiple iPhone prototypes this year.

Bloomberg in particular said one of the iPhone prototypes that Apple is testing has a "simpler design" with an aluminum back, rather than a glass one, and slightly larger dimensions, and that description is consistent with this render. But, as mentioned, this might not be the design that Apple selects.
Apple suppliers have so far struggled to reliably produce heavily curved glass in mass quantities, so the company is more likely to ship the version with more subdued curves, the person added. The company is also testing a simpler design that has an aluminum back, rather than a glass one, and slightly larger dimensions, one of the people said.
The prototype measures 149.5mm tall and 72.5mm wide, compared to the iPhone 7's 138.3mm length and 67.1mm width, so the "iPhone 8" would be slightly larger than a 4.7-inch iPhone as expected should Apple choose this design. The dimensions are consistent with a previous design schematic leaked last week.



Related Roundup: iPhone 8 (2017)
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Here’s the ‘Stealth’ Case Apple Uses to Conceal iPhone Prototypes During Transport

Long before Apple takes the wraps off a new iPhone, the smartphone goes through months of design work, testing, and production between Apple's headquarters in Cupertino and its manufacturing partners in China.

It is during this time that iPhone parts usually begin to leak, despite Apple's best efforts to double down on secrecy. Nevertheless, noted leaker Sonny Dickson has provided MacRumors with a closer look at a few known measures the company takes to hide iPhone prototypes and prevent potential leaks.


Foremost, Dickson said an iPhone prototype travels across the world in a "stealth" case designed to prevent onlookers from seeing how it looks. The case conceals most of the iPhone, while it has yellow "security" tape along the sides that would show any tampering by somebody trying to get it open.

The prototype is accompanied by a "passport" at all times for quality assurance/control testing, according to Dickson.


"Each component or product that is tested they document in the page," said Dickson. "The person writes their initials next to it and any notes about it passing or failing or any other comments. It makes its way through each test/person. It then is finally sent with its 'passport' from China to Apple."

As known, the prototype itself, such as the iPhone 6 Plus pictured below, is engraved with a QR code for Apple to keep track of the product.


As mentioned, these efforts have not entirely prevented iPhone prototypes from leaking. A mostly accurate picture of the iPhone 7 Plus with a dual-lens camera leaked in March 2016, six months before Apple unveiled the device, while an Apple engineer infamously left a disguised iPhone 4 at a bar near Cupertino in 2010.

Apple will reportedly begin production of a trio of new iPhones, including a 5.8-inch model with an edge-to-edge OLED display, as early as next quarter, so part leaks should begin to surface around that time if history repeats itself. Read our iPhone 8 roundup to keep track of the latest rumors in the meantime.


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