Apple launched its newest product HomePod at the WWDC 2017. It looks like Apple has finally decided to join the AI battle for homes. Apple stepped into this market a little late. Amazon Echo has been around for a couple of years next came Google Home which was launched in 2016. Now, we have HomePod.
Design and Hardware:
On the design front, Apple HomePod and Google Home have a similar look whereas Amazon Echo is taller than the two. All three are cylindrical in shape but differ in size and shape.
Apple’s HomePod looks like a smaller Mac Pro. It does not attract much attention as its main purpose is to blend well with the surroundings. HomePod’s features include::
-An acoustic mesh on the outside.
-A 3.5mm input and bluetooth connection.
-A 4 inch woofer, 7 tweeters and is 7 inches tall.
Google Home speaker is available in multiple colors. It allows you to customize the look of the speaker. Google Home provides:
-A 2 inch driver and dual 2 inch passive radiators.
-ARM cortex A9 processor.
-LED lights and metal bottom wrapped around chromecast.
Amazon Echo has a cylindrical shape and is 9 inches tall. It does not support a bluetooth connection and has a 2.5 inch woofer in comparison to the 4 inch woofer in HomePod. Amazon Echo includes:
-ARM cortex A8 processor.
-Microphone enabled remote control available.
In terms of design and hardware, Apple is at par with Google Home and Amazon Echo. The only plus point with Google Home is its availability in multiple colors.
The HomePod supports an A8 chip which is found in most of the latest iPhones. The chip allows the HomePod to make sound adjustments based on location which is not available in either Amazon Echo or Home.
Apple did not say anything about calling or incorporating any other form of communication feature in HomePod.
On the other hand, both Amazon Echo and Google Home provide calling and messaging feature to its users.
Apple’s HomePod is connected to your Apple Music library which means as soon as you log in, it knows your music taste. Apple music is the second largest paid music streaming app which offers up to 40 million songs in comparison to Amazon Music which offers 2 million songs. HomePod’s integration with Apple Music is an advantage for users who are already using Apple Music.
Amazon Echo doesn’t have anything like this. It connects to Amazon Music or Spotify but neither of these have custom music service that Apple offers.
At the I/O 2017, Google announced some major updates to Google Assistant making it smarter than before. Home is integrated with Google Play Music, Google cast ecosystem and also supports a third party service Spotify. Google Home has an advantage over Echo and HomePod with its chromecast integration. It can play videos and shows from YouTube, Netflix, and other supported apps.
Apart from hardware and Music comparison, the smart speakers AI capabilities deepen the comparison. Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home, and Apple’s Siri can perform basic tasks like setting up the alarm or performing web searches.
Apart from this, Siri can control elements of your smart home with the integration of Apple HomeKit. You can tell Siri to switch off the lights which Amazon does not support directly but it does offer a huge selection of third party ‘Skills’ and has had a good start in home integrations. Amazon has made an incredible progress as Alexa knows over 10,000 skills as of now. These third party integrations cannot be understated as performing basic tasks like the weather report or fetching stock prices is easy. The real strength of the virtual assistants lie in its third party integrations.
HomePod supports HomeKit, Apple’s smart home platform. The basic difference is that HomeKit can work on a wide range of devices whereas Alexa primarily works only on Amazon Echo.
However, Google Home still has an advantage over Siri as Google pitched it as an entertainment hub rather than a competition to Echo. Calling it the entertainment hub, Google Home has the ability to control your television if your tv has a chromecast built in. You can use your voice to launch YouTube or Netflix.
Google Home can perform a number of functions with its integration with other Google services like Google Maps, Google Translate, Google Calendar. Google Home has tremendous potential in this area but does not make use of this functionality. As of now, Google Home can read your calendar to you but does not have the capability to add to it.
Meanwhile, Echo has an ever growing list of ‘Skills’ from ordering food to booking a cab. Amazon Echo can do much more than just stream Music like Shop online through voice control. It also looks for complicated things with easy commands.
Looking at the comparisons above, Google Home is a clear winner in terms of its productivity and the features it offers like its latest ability to recognize voices and respond accordingly. Each family member can train Home to provide customized responses based on voice recognition.
Amazon Echo supports a large number of third party apps which Apple has not touched so far. Echo allows you to order food, answers voice queries, traffic alerts and much more.
HomePod is definitely smarter in comparison to Amazon Echo. Siri is smart enough to answer follow-up questions and make translations whereas Alexa lacks this functionality. But, Siri can not control Apple TV. It remains to be seen if Apple will be incorporating this feature in the near future.