- A top Apple exec took a public jab at Amazon and Google’s AI smart-home speakers.
- “If you don’t have something nice to say, say nothing at all,” Phil Schiller said.
- The comments suggest that Apple’s rumoured smart-home device will come with a screen.
Apple executive Phil Schiller doesn’t think much of the Amazon Echo or Google Home.
In a recent interview with NDTV, Apple’s senior vice president for worldwide marketing was asked for his opinion of the smart-home speakers built by Apple’s rivals.
His blunt response? “I won’t talk to either one specifically, [I] don’t want to. My mother used to have a saying that if you don’t have something nice to say, say nothing at all.”
AI-powered virtual assistants are red-hot in the tech industry right now. All the major players have one — Amazon has Alexa, Google has the Google Assistant, Samsung has Bixby, and Microsoft has Cortana, while Apple has Siri. According to the hype, they will ultimately transform how people use computers, freeing you from screens and letting you interact with apps using only your voice.
All of these virtual assistants are available on smartphones — but Google and Amazon have made theirs available in the home as well via dedicated smart-speakers: Amazon Echo, and Google Home. (They’re also being baked into everything from home appliances to cars, and Samsung plans to do something similar with Bixby.)
But Phil Schiller claims not to be a fan of what the two companies have been built. His key concern: The lack of screen to interact with when required. “There’s many moments where a voice assistant is really beneficial, but that doesn’t mean you’d never want a screen. So the idea of not having a screen, I don’t think suits many situations,” he told NDTV.
“For example, with photography, and one of the most popular reasons for our products is photography now, and photography requires a screen … And so I think voice assistants are incredibly powerful, their intelligence is going to grow, they’re gonna do more for us, but the role of the screen is gonna remain very important to all of this.”
Siri is currently only available in traditional Apple products like the iPhone, the Mac, and Apple TV. Screens are a fundamental part of them — so it makes sense that Schiller emphasises its role.
He might be on to something, too. Amazon is rumoured to be developing a new version of Echo that comes with — you guessed it! — a built-in screen.
But here’s where it gets interesting: Apple is believed to be building its own “home AI product,” and might launch it as soon as this summer.
We’re light on details about the product right now. Apple doesn’t comment on unannounced products and rumours. The tentative release date comes via reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who also expects it to be more expensive than rivals like the Amazon Echo.
In this context, this isn’t just Schiller speculating about a product category the company has no interest in. It’s an Apple executive hinting at what it considers important features of an upcoming product.
In other words, it sounds an awful lot like Apple’s rumoured smart-home device might have a screen.