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Apple's new $349 smart speaker won't be available until Decemberby Circa News

UPDATE 3:55 p.m. EST: Apple unveiled the HomePod -- its answer to Amazon Echo and Google Home -- on Monday at its WorldWide Developers Conference.

The smart speaker was widely expected and will cost $349, which is higher than both the Echo and Home. It will not be available until December, however.

Apple has touted the HomePod as having superior sound and audio quality.

Behold, the Apple HomePod.

Here's a look at the actual announcement.

Original Story:

Apple is poised to announce the release of a voice-activated, internet-connected speaker that people can put into their homes at its annual conference. The speaker is expected to tap into Apple's digital assistant, Siri, and serve as a sort of digital butler and music service.

Sound familiar? The move seems like an attempt to catch up with Google and Amazon. 

The speaker would be the first new Apple product since the Apple watch in 2015.

Amazon released its Echo speaker along with its virtual assistant, Alexa, in 2015. Google followed soon after with its own version, called the Home speaker, featuring an assistant simply named "Assistant." 

More than 35 million people in the United States will use a voice-activated speaker at least once a month in 2017, which is double the figure from last year, according to research firm eMarketer. 

For some, it seems like a logical next step for the company. 

Not everyone is so excited about the potential announcement, though.