Apple’s competitor to the Amazon Echo is reportedly entering prototype stage

As voice assistants become more powerful and widespread in the home, thanks to the success of the Amazon Echo, more and more companies will be looking to duplicate that success. Apple’s voice assistant, Siri, was introduced along with the iPhone 4S back in 2011, and that service has grown again substantially with the introduction of third party integrations in the iOS 10 launch this September.

This week, Mark Gurman at Bloomberg is reporting that Apple is continuing to ramp up plans to release a standalone voice-controlled Siri device like the Echo. The project, first started over two years ago, has now hit the prototype stage, which typically means employees begin testing the device in their homes. Gurman says that plans originally had this functionality built in to the Apple TV, but those plans didn’t work out and were rolled into a separate device.

With the added power Siri gained in iOS 10, the stage is set for developers of all kinds to be able to integrate with Apple’s voice assistant in the future, much like with the Amazon Echo. It’s also rumoured that this device, when released, may include cameras to do advanced face detection to determine who is speaking to it. In any case, this product isn’t yet in final stages, and the prototype stage means the device could still be years from market, if it’s ever released at all.