Rumors are ramping up lately that Apple will make a Siri speaker soon. This seems reasonable as that space is growing fast and they don’t want to be left behind. Some concerns I’ve read were things like needing a screen for some tasks where these assistants can fall short. What if Apple’s magic up its sleeve is using their Handoff/Continuity features to pass over to your phone when a screen is needed? You make a request, but perhaps it’s a really long article that comes back. Rather than have her read the entire thing, an icon shows up on your phone/iPad/watch or she even vibrates it (based on knowing who asked) so you can read it.
Another useful feature could be integration with AirPods and the likes. They can’t do “Hey Siri”, but if you’re wearing them and ask it, they could be used to playback the response instead of the speaker. This device, which would always be plugged in, could have some new chip like the W1 for Bluetooth, allowing multiple users to have AirPods paired to it and act as a central hub when you’re home, no need to have a phone handy. These are definitely some lofty goals, but worth discussing at the very least.
Different thought: What if we’re on the completely wrong track with this? What if instead, Apple uses the W1 Bluetooth tech and builds a Bluetooth speaker and mic that has some slight “smarts” to it, in that, it can sense multiple users’ voices for “Hey Siri” but ultimately it still routes back to the user’s connected phone? You could have these placed all over the house for fairly cheap, and being always on/plugged in, they could have far better Bluetooth range and capabilities. This wouldn’t limit the device to only being able to read out voice replies, as the user’s phone would do the actual work and they could just look at their phone at any point to see the same response. This also would make the possibility of adding more functions like mesh wifi, and still keep the price point lower.
Routing to the user’s phone would be great for privacy too. The centralized device, accessible from anyone in the home, could just be “dumb”, the real “smarts” happening on the individual’s private, encrypted device. This could be tricky, since it would need really good voice detection and possibly a way to authenticate, but would certainly follow Apple’s “Think Different” motto.