Apple Inc. seems to be trailing its rivals when it comes to launching new consumer products. Rumors surfaced a few days ago that it is set to launch its own range of virtual reality devices to rival similar products unveiled by Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc .
Facebook helped bring visual reality to the mainstream market with its Oculus product line. It did so by buying the then 2-year old Oculus VR, LLC in mid-2014 for $2bn. Since then, it has invested a lot of money to refine this technology to make it easier for consumers to use it. This week, it acquired a VR-audio company called Two Big Ears in order to improve user experience on Oculus. It also opened a London-based Oculus office this month.
Last week, Google revealed plans to launch its Daydream VR platform. Daydream is a VR ecosystem that combines both hardware and software. It will be compatible with the Google’s next-generation Android N software. The company plans to use a headset and a compatible smartphone that turns into a screen to bring VR to mainstream users. Since no existing smartphone has the right specs to enable it work with Daydream, Google is working with OEMs to address this.
In March, Apple filed a patent for a VR headset. This indicates it is eager to have its own slice of this futuristic technology. However, it is yet to release a product to satisfy this market niche.
Apple Set to Release Intelligent Smart Home Hub
However, when it comes to intelligent home-speakers similar to Amazon.com, Inc.’s Echo, Apple is rumored to be developing a similar product. Apple intends to allow developers to create apps for Siri voice assistant. This will help the company create a product that rivals Amazon’s Echo.
Amazon’s Echo is a voice-controlled smart home hub that does tasks such as hailing an Uber, ordering Pizza or checking airline reservations. The device has registered runaway success, with 3 million gadgets already sold. Google hasn’t been left behind, having announced plans to release a similar product aptly named Google Home later this year.
With Amazon having a first mover advantage through Echo, product differentiation and pricing is likely to determine if Google Home and Apple’s so-called HomeKit will succeed. Before we discuss Apple’s newest product, let’s explore the unique features that Google Home has to offer.
First, Google has a lot of experience in artificial intelligence and natural language processing. It has a voice-based assistant called “Ok Google” that understands voices in various accents. However, Amazon had to acquire voice recognition startup Alexa to build software for Echo.
Moreover, Google Home is capable of doing several tasks that Echo is unable to perform. This includes managing a TV via Chromecast, sending texts and updating Google calendar. Echo also boasts its own unique features that Google lacks. Now, let’s go back to Apple.
Developers Will Be Allowed to Access Software Developer Kit
For starters, Apple plans to allow developers to access its own software developer kit (SDK). This will pave way for the development of its own Echo-like device that will have a speaker and microphone. Users can be able to listen to music, set timers or get news headlines.
Earlier on, tech enthusiasts thought Apple would merge Apple TV with HomeKit, its smart home platform. However, the company is expected to develop a completely different device that isn’t related in any aspect with Apple TV.
While rumors do turn out wrong, this leak could turn out true. As earlier explained, Apple recently patented its own VR headset. The company is also underperforming, with sales of iPhone declining. Hence the company needs a new breakthrough product to sustain its revenue growth.