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Apple’s Schiller: Echo-Like Devices Need a Screen

Apple exec Phil Schiller is not a huge fan of the Amazon Echo or Google Home, arguing that the lack of a screen makes them ineffective for "many situations."

Speaking to Gadgets360, Schiller—Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing—declined to dissect either device specifically ("My mother used to have a saying that if you don't have something nice to say, say nothing at all.") But in the "abstract," Apple back an solutions with voice and visual components.

Apple believes "deeply in voice-driven assistants," Schiller told Gadgets360, pointing to its investment in Siri. Voice-only solutions are convenient for when you're behind the wheel, for example, or otherwise occupied and want to do something like change the music that's playing.

"But that doesn't mean you'd never want a screen," Schiller argued. Turn-by-turn directions are nice, but so is an accompanying map, he said. A voice-only device is also not the best for social media, he said.

Schiller did not disclose whether Apple was mullling an Echo-like device with a screen, saying only that the space is "interesting."

Schiller's comments come after Bloomberg in November said Amazon was working on a touch-screen Echo. More recently, AFTVnews posted images of what it says is an Echo with a 7-inch display. The site said it's code-named "Knight" and could arrive later this month.

Harman Kardon Invoke with Cortana

Echo-like devices are the new big thing; Lenovo showed off its Smart Assistant at CES this year and Harman Kardon today revealed the Invoke, a Cortana-powered speaker it first teased in December.

The Invoke arrives in the fall and will allow you to "control your music and smart home [and] make and receive hands-free calls with Skype" via voice, according to the product page. You can sign up to be notified when it arrives; pricing was not disclosed.

Until then, Amazon Echo is set to dominate the market. According to Monday data from eMarketer, 70.6 percent of those using voice-activated digital assistants this year will do so via an Amazon Echo. About 23.8 percent will use Google Home, with other maufacturers like Lenovo, LG, Harmon Kardon, and Mattel bringing up the rear.

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