Apple just unveiled HomePod, a $349 competitor to Amazon's Echo

Key Points
  • Apple unveiled its HomePod speaker on Monday.
A first look at Apple's HomePod, an Amazon Echo competitor

Apple unveiled its home speaker during WWDC 2017 on Monday. The device, called HomePod, will go toe-to-toe with existing competitors such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home.

Apple marketing boss Phil Schiller said Apple wanted to combine good speakers with smart speakers you can talk to, referencing Sonos and Amazon Alexa. Schiller said the speaker "needs to rock the house" free from distortion. It also needs to have "spatial awareness" to make the music sound good no matter the room size. It also needs to be fun to use, Apple said.

It's powered by an A8 processor that Apple says helps it tap into the cloud and provide the best audio experience in your room. There are seven tweeters inside, too, and 6 microphones that allow you to talk to the speaker. "Hey Siri," brings the speaker to life and then you can ask it to play music.

This isn't just about music, though. You can also ask HomePod to control HomeKit devices and adjust the air conditioning or lights. Or you can ask it for the news, weather, traffic, sports scores, to text someone with messages and set reminders.

Also, Schiller made a point to say that Apple cares a lot about its user's privacy, so nothing is ever being sent until you say "Hey Siri."It uses an anonymous Siri ID, too, so your searches aren't tracked back to you.

Amazon's $179.99 Echo device offers tight integration with Amazon services like shopping and audiobooks, in addition to integrations with services such as Nest, Uber, Fitbit, Domino's and Pandora. Amazon also offers a $49.99 Dot speaker and the $229.99 Echo Show, which features a screen. Google's $109 competitor, Google Home, offers similar options.

Apple's speaker will launch this December in white or gray and will cost $349.

Watch: Apple announces new 'HomePod' speaker

Apple announces new 'HomePod' home speaker