Apple appears to be relying on Siri to take on Amazon’s Alexa-enabled Echo speaker system. The Cupertino giant is said have spent two years of research and development in making its own smart speaker technology, with Bloomberg reporting that prototypes are currently being tested. 

Apple’s speaker system is reportedly designed to complement smart home devices that are powered by Siri. Hence, it is poised to be a worthy competitor to Amazon Echo, which turned out to be very popular among consumers. 

Should Apple’s plan push through, the Siri-enabled speaker system would be the second new hardware offering from the company following its venture into the wearable market with its own smartwatch, the Apple Watch. 

MacRumors reports that aside from taking on Amazon’s Echo, Apple is also looking into competing with Google’s Google Home and other similar speaker systems on the market. To do this, the Cupertino giant is going to use a more advanced microphone and speaker technology, as revealed by people with information on the project. 

The prototypes that are currently being tested already has the advanced feature of facial recognition, thanks to the company’s acquisition of Emotient and Faceshitft. Facial recognition would be useful in that it could help the Siri device recognize if there is someone in a room and even “a person’s emotional state.”

Aside from facial recognition, Amazon Echo’s Apple rival is going to perform typical functionality related to Siri’s capabilities as a personal assistant. Thus, users can use the speaker to play music, do some web searchers, respond to text messages and more. It could also come with Apple Maps integration, since Apple is considering to enable Siri to alert users when is the right time to leave the house for an appointment. 

With or without the planned smart speaker system, however, Apple is said to be looking for ways to enhance Siri’s functionality on iPhones and iPads, according to insiders. One such advancement is currently code-named “Invisible Hand” because it could give Siri the power to serve as the main command system that controls home devices. 

Previously, Apple reportedly considered to just embed Siri into the Apple TV instead of building a standalone speaker system like Amazon’s Echo. However, the tech giant may have realized how impractical it is to turn a TV entertainment system into a home control system, so now it is working on its own high-tech speaker system, as per The Verge

Despite spending time and effort in building its own high-tech speaker, nothing is set in stone as of late. Therefore, Bloomberg reports Apple could still scrap this project.