As fast as Apple could announce HomePod, it became a meme

Apple "can't afford to yield valuable real-estate in the heart of people's homes to Amazon, Google and others", said Geoff Blaber, research analyst at CCS Insight.

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.

Siri, meanwhile, is getting a new voice.

The HomePod comes with an A8 fusion chip, the same one that powers the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

Starting at $349, the device, which ships in December, is almost double the cost of the Amazon Echo ($179.99) and more than three times the price of the Google Home ($109). Apple has also considered including sensors that measure a room's acoustics and automatically adjust audio levels during use, one of the people said.

Apple's speaker, called HomePod, emphasizes the enjoyment of music and looks like a wide can with curved edges. The HomePod, in comparison, was the best of both worlds. There are still a lot of unanswered questions about the device.

The move had been the focus of rumous in the run-up to the Apple event on Monday.

More 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, according to the research firm eMarketer. And while Sonos doesn't have built-in voice control like Echo or HomePod, a Sonos spokesperson told CNET today that "we're making great progress with the Alexa integration" that the company announced and demoed earlier this year. Amazon also has the Echo Dot, a budget version of the Echo that starts at $49.99. A HomePod will be little more than a glorified speaker unless you invest accessories like the EcoBee thermostat, Phillips Hue lights, and Schlage Sense locks.

Still, the HomePod is a big step up from Apple's last speaker product (remember 2006's Apple Hi-Fi?).

That leaves Apple. Although it was the first smartphone maker to come out with a digital assistant when Siri debuted in 2011, it hasn't had a stand-alone assistant.

Even so, Apple made a point of touting the device's spacial awareness. Of course you can do this on a computer that's not from Apple but the only way to develop things for Apple products is on Mac OS which is available on Macbook and iMacs only.

Inventec Corp., the Taipei manufacturer that already makes the AirPod wireless headphones, will add the speaker to its Apple repertoire, the people said.

To that end, Apple is splitting out the games and apps categories, and providing in-house features on the essential downloads for your iPhone or iPad. The lack of a recent breakthrough device has periodically raised concerns that Apple has become too dependent on the iPhone and supported the theory that the company lost its knack for innovation when its co-founder Steve Jobs died of cancer in 2011. Alongside the seven speaker array, the Apple HomePod boasts of a 4 inch upward facing woofer.

Apple has not confirmed the price of the HomePod for the UK.

  • Arturo Norris