Apple has unveiled a new device that acts as both a speaker and a personal assistant that will help to enable people to remain living at home for longer.

‘HomePod’ allows people to control any homekit device through voice commands made to Siri such as turning on lights or heating, as well as play music.

It is Apple’s response to Amazon Echo and Google Home and is powered by Apple Music. Its microphones are sensitive enough to hear commands “Hey Siri …” over loud noise.

The device was launched at Apple’s annual developer conference yesterday, along with significant upgrades to Siri itself.

The latest upgrade to Siri, which is available through iPhones and iPads as well as the new HomePod, will feature a new voice and improved capability to understand what people are saying, as well as enhanced language skills with greater detail in inflection and pronunciation.

Siri is also getting an instant translation feature. When asked to translate a phrase from English into Spanish, Chinese, French, German or Italian Siri will repeat the translation out loud.

While it can only translate one way at present, this function alone will help carers and health professionals trying to communicate with clients in other languages immensely.

HomePod will be launched in Australia, the US and the UK this December and will initially retail for $US349.