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Screenshot by Axios

Apple unveiled a connected home speaker at its annual developer conference in San Jose, which is due out later this year. The speaker, dubbed HomePod, comes after months of questions (and recent rumors) as to whether the tech giant will release a device to rival Amazon's Echo and Google Home.

"We want to reinvent home music," said Apple CEO Tim Cook. Senior VP of marketing Phil Schiller disses competition, saying that others have good speakers, but no assistant, and those with a good assistant aren't great speakers. "None of them have quite nailed it yet," Schiller said.

History lesson: It's not Apple's first attempt at a home speaker. It had the ill-fated Apple Hi-Fi, a $349 iPod speaker that was a pet project of Steve Jobs.

Here are the specs:

  • It's powered by the Apple A8 processor, same used in some iPhones. "It's perhaps the biggest brain ever in a speaker," Schiller said.
  • Apple's Siri is integrated into HomePod.
  • HomePod can do things like read the news, play music, set up alarms and reminders, check the weather.
  • HomePod can connect to Apple's HomeKit and control smart home devices.
  • Will cost $349 and come in white and "space gray"
  • Will begin shipping in December in the U.S. and the U.K.

The story has been updated with the correct price for the iPod Hi-Fi.

Go deeper

Democrat Mark Kelly sworn in to U.S. Senate

Photo: Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images

Astronaut Mark Kelly (D) was sworn in to the U.S. Senate on Wednesday after defeating incumbent Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) last month for the seat once held by the late Sen. John McCain.

Why it matters: Kelly's swearing-in by Vice President Mike Pence narrows the Republican majority and moves the Senate balance to 52-48.

Senate Armed Services chair dismisses Trump threat to veto defense bill

Sen. Jim Inhofe. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told reporters Wednesday that he plans to move ahead with a crucial defense-spending bill without provisions that would eliminate tech industry protections, defying a veto threat from President Trump.

Why it matters: Inhofe's public rebuke signals that the Senate could have enough Republican backing to override a potential veto from Trump, who has demanded that the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Scoop: Uber in talks to sell air taxi business to Joby

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Uber is in advanced talks to sell its Uber Elevate unit to Joby Aviation, Axios has learned from multiple sources. A deal could be announced later this month.

Between the lines: Uber Elevate was formed to develop a network of self-driving air taxis, but to date has been most notable for its annual conference devoted to the nascent industry.