SAN FRANCISCO, June 5 (Xinhua) -- Apple Inc. introduced Monday a music speaker, its first new hardware since Apple Watch was rolled out two years ago, at an annual gathering of software developers.

To be "smart," the latest product in Apple's portfolio, known as HomePod, comes with a A8 microprocessor chip, the same power engine in the technology company's flagship iPhone smartphone and iPad tablet computer.

To be available on the market in December this year, the compact wireless speaker has some identical functions offered by similar products made by other companies, such as Amazon Echo and Google Home, but promises to produce higher quality sound.

Activated by voice with Apple's natural language user interface Siri, it will have access to Apple Music, a music-streaming service.

Although HomePod seems to be a more expensive competitor of Echo, which was released by two years ago, Apple's Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tim Cook opened the Worldwide Developers Conference, or WWDC, with an announcement that Prime Video, a video streaming service operated by, will be integrated into Apple TV, a digital media player and microconsole.

At the event in San Jose, Northern California, not far from Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, Cook said his company now has 16 million registered software developers worldwide for its consumer electronics and 3 million of them were added last year.

A parade of executives followed Cook unto the stage and unveiled a series of updates to Apple's hardware, software and mobile applications, or apps, including iMac desktop computer, MacBook laptop machine, iPad, Apple Watch, iOS software operating system and App Store.

The company said its App Store has so far paid out 70 billion U.S. dollars to developers, of which 30 percent was made last year.

Potentially indicative of what Apple probably will come up with its next smartphone, expected to come out later this year on the 10th anniversary of its initial rollout of iPhone, is its plan to release an augmented reality (AR) kit to developers, so as to encourage the creation of AR apps to work with the new device.