From the moment Amazon launched Echo, it’s Alexa voice-powered home hub, people have been asking where Apple and Siri were in the living room. The answer, so far, has been Apple TV, but as a very different type of device. When Google launched Google Home, interest in a possible Apple home hub intensified again.
Apple has also had a difference in philosophy. Where Amazon focused exclusively on the living room, initially in one language and one country — English in the U.S. — Apple put Siri on every device, in dozens of countries and over a score of languages. Similarly, Alexa began third party integrations early and quickly where SiriKit is just in its first year and for just a handful of domains.
In other words, Echo kills when you’re in your living room in New York. It’s useless when you’re down the block, across town, or around the world. Conversely, Siri can go with you everywhere, but it’s even-odds it’ll work at any given time.
An Apple hub, it’s hoped, would bring the same level of home experience to Siri that Alexa has enjoyed for years.
Apple home hub as multi-personal assistant
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On an iPhone, saying “Hey Siri, read my texts!” results in your texts being read. On an Apple TV or Home hub, saying “Hey Siri, read my texts!” results in whose texts being read… and to whom? Do you get to access to your parents’ or children’s’ data? Your spouses or siblings? Your roommate or host?
Apple TV can already be logged into multiple Apple IDs, but tvOS hasn’t made any of them available to Siri or even for messages or mail apps on the device. Because, privacy.
Similar to the path Apple took with Siri apps, where they tried to go deep instead of broad, and ensure domains and intents could handle a robust set of languages and sentence structures, bringing full-on Siri to the Home requires a lot of care and consideration.
That’s especially true given Apple’s very public, very high-level stance on privacy. Always listening microphones and always watching cameras are amazing for beam forming and target locking, but have profound ramifications for privacy.
As does making Siri truly multi-user.
Voice ID and pass phrases, facial recognition and body analysis, and all sorts of other authentication systems work great in the movies, but in the real-world living room? Apple won’t even let Siri on Apple TV unlock your door or open your garage right now because the Siri remote can’t authenticate the request the way Touch ID or the heart-rate monitor on iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch can.
More than whether or not Apple will extend Apple TV or AirPort Extreme, or release Apple Speakers or a standalone Apple Home hub, how the company solves for multi-user and privacy is going to be fascinating to watch.
And likely require a whole lot of that Apple “magic”.
Apple home hub as iCloud intermediator
macOS server does a variety of amazing things, including automagically caching iCloud backups and software updates for all the Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Apple TV devices in the household. It could also work with technologies like on-demand resources, pre-fetching them a stage before so they’re ready and instantly available exactly when you need them.
Your Apple home hub wish-list?
The best thing about unannounced, potentially never-announced products is that they’re wide open. We can imagine them to be anything we want them to be. So, what would you like to see from an Apple home hub?