Apple’s HomePod which was the big announcement at WWDC 2017, is a product which everyone is talking about. And rightly so, as it’s the start of a new journey for the company, into a yet relatively unknown marketplace. A market which although new, already has a leader in the Amazon Echo, and another newish product in Google Home. So, today we’re going to have a look at how each compares. So, take a seat, and be prepared to be informed.
Apple HomePod Yet Another Smart Speaker
Yes, the market may be new, but, is it one you want to be part of? That’s the question you should be asking yourself. After all, do we need yet another proclaimed smart device, what with smartwatches, phones, tablets, computers, the list could go on? Our daily lives are constantly intruded upon by devices that no longer try to solve a problem, but, create them.
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Having said that, smart assistants like the Amazon Echo have proven to be a runaway success across the world. So, much so, that company’s like Google and now Apple have joined the fray. So how do these smart speakers compare? Let’s take a look and see.
To start with, we have to draw a distinction between Bluetooth speakers and smart speakers. Earlier this week, we compared the three mentioned here with the Sonos Play 1. Unfortunately, it does not have an assistant, so can not be considered to be smart. Whereas, the Apple HomePod, Amazon Echo, and Google Home all have them, Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant.
How do they work? They all require an internet connection so that they can connect to the cloud. This helps all of them to use voice recognition, and as such be able to respond to questions and commands. Without such a connection, it’s fair to say that all three would be nothing more than expensive speakers like thew Sonos.
As for how this works in the real-world, you can use the Apple HomePod, Amazon Echo, and Google Home for almost the same things. In fact, if you ask for a weather report, sports information, or to play one of your favorite songs, they all will. Additionally, if you have the set up to do so, turning on/off the lights, closing the curtains, etc. is all possible.
However, where the differences become apparent is in the services each provides
While the precise context you can use and the exact format of the responses you get vary, the actual behavior of these voice assistants are very similar. Ask any of them what the weather is, and you’ll get a forecast. Ask for sports information, and you’ll get game scores. Tell them to play a song, and you’ll hear music played through their respective music services. Tell them to turn off your lights, and they’ll turn off if you have a smart lighting setup. It’s the individual services that really differentiate the voice assistants and the speakers.
With regard to the newcomer, the Apple HomePod, the company’s approach is what holds it back. What is that? It’s Apple’s approach to third-party support, right now, there isn’t any. Compared to the Amazon Echo, which has thousands of third-party application features, and Google Home that is catching up. The HomePod is a rather sterile competitor; it doesn’t have outside developers working way’s to make better use of its abilities.
What could this ultimately mean for the Apple HomePod? It’s possible it could be left behind, due to its inability to offer more specific and targetted services. In the end, it will mean that both Amazon Echo and Google Home will have skills that far outstrip that of their latest competitor. Now, we realize, it’s early day’s for the Apple HomePod, but, if like the Google Home device, Apple doesn’t get it right straight away. It will be a product that nobody wants. After all, why pay the considerably higher price the Cupertino-based outfit is asking, for less?
How does the HomePod differ from its rivals? According to Apple, that’s in audio quality. If you watched or attended the WWDC keynote on Monday, it was apparent that the company was placing this feature above its smart one. Why? According to representatives at the keynote address, current smart speakers concentrate so hard on being smart.
They forget that ultimately after all the commands have been given, and questions asked. The audio output quality is what, is being returned, and the Apple HomePod is comparable in this respect to the Sonos Play 1, which makes it superior to the low-quality utterings of the Amazon Echo, and Google Home.
Furthermore, it is for this exact reason, that Apple is asking for more money for its product. Right now, it thinks the Siri functionality is enough to justify calling it a smart speaker/Home Assistant, and the audio makes it an audiophile’s dream. Just one that costs nearly double the price of the current market leader, will you buy it?
Apple HomePod vs. Amazon Echo vs. Google Home specs comparison chart
Here is a breakdown of all the specs, including the price of each device.