NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of Apple (AAPL) - Get Report are gaining by 0.76% to $98.64 in pre-market trading on Wednesday, as the company will allow software developers to connect their apps to Siri and eventually deploy the digital assistant on a standalone device rivaling Amazon.com's (AMZN) $180 Echo "smart" speaker, sources told The Information.

Apple is preparing to release a software developer kit, or SDK, enabling app developers to integrate their products with its digital assistant Siri.

The company has kept Siri mostly closed to outsiders even as rival Amazon.com has partnered with companies to allow Echo users to interact with ride-hailing app Uber, music streaming service Spotify and restaurants, Fortune notes. Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google is developing a voice-controlled speaker that will be open to third party services, while Microsoft already allows developers access to its digital assistant Cortana.

A "smart" speaker would be the iPhone maker's first product in a new category since the Apple Watch was released in March 2015.

"There have been many periods where there have been two to three years of no wow factor, and then all of a sudden something comes out and it just reboots things," Tim Bajarin, veteran Apple analyst with Creative Strategies, told USA Today. "You just have to look at Apple from the longer term perspective."

(Apple is held in Jim Cramer's charitable trust Action Alerts PLUS. See all of his holdings here.)

Separately, TheStreet Ratings team rates the stock as a "buy" with a ratings score of A-.

Apple's strengths, such as its revenue growth, notable return on equity, expanding profit margins, increase in net income and growth in earnings per share, outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow.

You can view the full analysis from the report here: AAPL

TheStreet Ratings objectively rated this stock according to its "risk-adjusted" total return prospect over a 12-month investment horizon. Not based on the news in any given day, the rating may differ from Jim Cramer's view or that of this article's author.

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