Image: New Apple HomePod smart speaker
Apple has announced its first new product since the Apple Watch more than two years ago.
The company announced a new voice-controlled speaker during its WWDC developer conference in California on Monday. Dubbed HomePod, the new speaker features voice control and spatial awareness to adapt the sound to different rooms.
"It will reinvent home audio," said Apple CEO Tim Cook.
HomePod will go on sale in December in Australia, the US and the UK and will cost American consumers $349 (A$465). Additional markets are planned for next year, while there is no word yet on Australian pricing.
HomePod uses the company's A8 chip, which Apple also uses for its mobile devices. The speaker will use an array of six microphones for voice control via Siri, and seven tweeters for audio playback.
In many ways, HomePod will be able to do the same things as an Amazon Echo or Google Home, including playing back podcasts, setting reminders, checking sports scores, translation and controlling internet-connected devices. There's no word yet on support for third-party services, or ways for developers to adapt their services for HomePod.
Bloomberg reported last week that the company had begun to manufacture the device.
This isn't Apple's first attempt to enter the home audio market. The company announced a standalone speaker dubbed the iPod HiFI in 2006, but discontinued the device soon after. Beats Electronics was also working on a Wifi-equipped speaker when it was acquired by Apple in 2014, but Apple decided to kill the project before it was publicly announced.