(Pocket-lint) - Apple announced its own music system to rival Google Home, Amazon Echo and Sonos back in June, in the form of the HomePod speaker. And at the time claimed that it would be released in the US and UK this December.

It has, however, now announced a delay to the Siri-controlled speaker, with a statement sent to Pocket-lint revealing that it its new release date has been put back to "early 2018".

"We can’t wait for people to experience HomePod, Apple’s breakthrough wireless speaker for the home, but we need a little more time before it’s ready for our customers. We’ll start shipping in the US, UK and Australia in early 2018," it said.

The Apple HomePod is designed to take on the Amazon Echo in smart functionality but also systems like Sonos in audio quality.

It has a seven-beam forming tweeter array to fill a room multi-directionally, plus a 4-inch woofer for bass control.

The speaker is controlled by Apple's A8 processor, which the company claims is "the biggest brain inside of a speaker". This enables many features, such as multi-channel echo cancellation and separation.

However, its the smart functionality, combined with Siri voice control ("Hey Siri") and Apple Music which, using six microphones around the circumference, streams tracks using plenty of contextual phrases.

It can also, like the Amazon Echo or Google Home, set reminders, timers and find out news, traffic and sports reports.

Apple's HomePod will come in white and black, and as it comes with HomeKit built into the device, works to control smart appliances around your home even when you just interact with your iPhone from another location.

It is expected to cost £349 in the UK and confirmed to cost $349 in the US when it finally does ship early next year.

Writing by Rik Henderson.