Apple Opening Siri, Developing Echo Rival

Apple is upping its game in the field of intelligent assistants. After years of internal debate and discussion about how to do so, the company is preparing to open up Siri to apps made by others. And it is working on an Amazon Echo-like device with a speaker and microphone that people can use to turn on music, get news headlines or set a timer.

Opening up its Siri voice assistant to outside app developers is the more immediate step. Apple is preparing to release a software developer kit, or SDK, for app developers who want their apps to be accessible through Siri, according to a person with direct knowledge of the effort.

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Inside Apple, CEO Tim Cook has talked about the importance of giving people information about the businesses, public institutions and events in the relatively small radius in which they live. So it’s reasonable to expect that to be part of the vision of Siri going forward.

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Siri already can access a few outside services, such as Yelp, as a result of deals Apple has struck with those companies. But the SDK would let let any developer have such access.