Apple is transplanting its digital assistant Siri into an internet-connected speaker that will become the company's first new product in more than two years, the AP reports. The HomePod speaker unveiled at Apple's annual conference for app developers Monday is similar to devices that rivals Amazon and Google have already been selling, though Apple says it's giving more emphasis to sound quality, not just smarts. It's no surprise, but there's integration with the Apple Music online subscription. Besides playing music, HomePod will help people to manage their lives and homes. Siri will be the voice assistant responding to requests for information and other help around the house.
It's Apple's first new device since the company released the Apple Watch in April 2015. The speaker will sell for about $350 in December in the US, UK, and Australia. Amazon sells the main version of the Echo for $180 and Google sells its Home speaker for $130. The Echo, released in 2015, and Google Home, released last year, have helped plant the seeds for a promising market. The research firm eMarketer says than 35 million people in the US are expected to use a voice-activated speaker at least once a month this year, more than doubling from last year. Click for more from the conference. (Read more Apple stories.)