Andy Rubin’s company, Essential, just set the bar for Apple’s rumored Siri voice assistant appliance. He announced on Monday Essential Home, which is a voice controlled assistant that sounds like a laundry list of Siri Speaker features.
The Essential Home—not to be confused with Google Home—looks a little like Amazon’s Echo Dot, but with a round display built into the top. It handles the usual functions, like streaming music, reporting the weather, and controlling your smart lights, plus it supports HomeKit, Nest, SmartThings, and other smart home platforms.
The media is very interested in Essential and the products it’s promising because the company was founded by Andy Rubin. He’s the guy responsible for the creation of the Android operating system, and was in charge of the product for about 10 years after Google bought it up. He eventually left to pursue other tech ventures which ultimately led to Essential and its Home appliance.
Home Wants to be Your Essential Voice Assistant
Talking to the Home device should feel familiar for most tech savvy people because it supports Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant. Home will offer what it deems as contextually relevant information throughout the day, plus you can interact with it by voice, .
Home is also all about protecting your privacy, according to The Verge, so it’ll handle as much of its artificial intelligence processing locally instead of relying on cloud-based systems for its smarts. It’s not clear how that’ll really keep your interactions private since Home can connect with smart services that exploit our personal data as a matter of business, like Google’s services.
What we do know is Essential Home runs a new operating system dubbed Ambient OS that includes plenty of hooks to let all your smarthome devices work together, much like IFTTT. Since it’s handling a lot of what it does locally, maybe that’ll help keep what we say and how we use Home more private.
Essential Home and Siri Speaker
This all sounds a lot like what people are expecting from the rumored Siri Speaker: voice control with a display for supplemental information, music streaming, internet search support, smart home control, and a healthy dose of privacy.
Those are exactly the comparisons Rubin is no doubt hoping for. The timing of the Essential Home announcement is anything but coincidence. Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference kicks off next week, and if Apple does announce its Siri Speaker the media will talk about how it stacks up against Amazon Echo, Google Home, and now Essential Home.
The comparisons between Essential Home and Siri Speaker, however, will likely take center stage—at least with the technology pundits—because of how similar the two seem. Considering Essential has nothing more than computer renderings to show off and a promise of a launch later this year, it’s a safe bet that’s exactly what Rubin is counting on.