Apple TV is a set-top box. How could it possibly be made into a voice activated assistant?
It's once again rumored that Apple is working on making its set-top box, Apple TV, into an Amazon Echo-like device with a speaker and microphone.
Apple has considered several options — turning the existing Apple TV into a more comprehensive assistant, making the Apple TV's Siri Remote the key device, or even building a standalone speaker just like Echo. Ultimately, the third option was dropped, given how much money Apple has spent on the development of Apple TV.
Sure, it's possible that Apple's research and development department looked into the idea, maybe even drew up some designs. But, it would be a bad—no, terrible—idea for Apple to turn its set-top box into a smart home hub.
Apple TV... for the TV
Apple TV is for the television set. While the average household may have three TV sets (Nielsen report, circa 2010), it isn't likely that they are in the dining room, kitchen, garage, bathroom—you get the idea. Apple TV currently has to be hardwired to your TV in order to work. So, unless wireless HDMI suddenly becomes a real thing, and is retrofitted onto all existing TV sets, Apple TV has to stay next to your television.
That means it's not portable—not like Amazon's Echo or Goggle's Home. So, when you're in the kitchen making dinner and want to ask Siri how to brown butter, chances are your Apple TV won't be in the same room as you.
Apple TV also currently turns on or off when you turn your TV set on or off. In order for it to be a true home hub, Apple TV would have to stay on all the time, even when the TV is off. That makes sense for a small hub-like device. Less so for a set top box.
Also, many people just bought a new Apple TV. Having to buy another one so soon just to get home hub support would be frustrating. And if it isn't coming soon, that would be just as frustrating.
That's why it feels like Apple TV would be less than ideal as a competitor with the Echo or Home.
Home is where the hub is
What I can believe, however, is that Apple is advancing its efforts to make the Apple TV better. The unnamed sources that said Apple is turning its set-top box into a smart home hub also said that the company is planning to add a Siri SDK to make it possible for third-party developers to make use of the virtual assistant. It was also mentioned that Apple TV will integrate with the HomeKit framework.
It would be fantastic if the Apple TV was compatible with HomeKit and with the home hub, when it launches. Using the Siri Remote to dim the lights or lock the front door would be a perfect fit for the Apple TV. That, to me, makes much more sense than making Apple TV the home hub.
I'd love something like Amazon Echo from Apple. I just don't want it bound to my TV. I want the option to have it anywhere and everywhere in my home.