Apple HomePod to Compete with Amazon Echo, Google Home


HomePod's hardware specs make it a superior speaker, but if that's the end goal, why won't folks just pair a Sonos with an Echo Dot?

Apple is getting into the smart speaker market with the HomePod, the company's first entirely new product in three years.

Also worth noting: Apple didn't announce support for any music services beyond its own Apple Music. Synced directly with Siri and Apple Music, the powerful speaker will play whatever it is told to play.

One interpretation is that Apple isn't going after competing voice assistants but the midrange, wireless multi-room speaker market; the domain of companies like Sonos, Bose, and Logitech.

Of course, just because the Cupertino brand focused on the HomePod's speaker qualities instead of its "smart" characteristics doesn't mean Siri didn't get some time in the spotlight. That's twice the cost of the Echo and nearly three times the price of Google Home.

How does it line up?

The size of the unit is 172 x 142 mm at a weight of 5.5 lbs.

Amazon and Google's existing speakers have also proved popular with consumers since the Echo launched in the United Kingdom in 2016 and Home earlier this year. Granted, the other two are much smaller in size than the HomePod and naturally would weigh less. HomePod might also have some unique appeal to folks who've invested in Apple's burgeoning HomeKit smart home ecosystem. This led some members of the Siri team to believe he didn't fully appreciate the product's original vision: "to expand beyond the iPhone to third-party apps". For those concerned about security, Apple says all communications with the HomePod will be encrypted.

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Another disadvantage it has is that music support only comes from Apple Music. It's a revolutionary way to enjoy much more music, whatever your genre preferences, and that's a win in my book. Apple's commitment to user privacy-as well as its relative lack of user data, compared to Google and Amazon-has also limited its ability to personalize Siri or anticipate users' needs.

The Echo can play music from popular music services like Spotify, Pandora, TuneIn and iHeart Radio.

Similarly to the Amazon Echo and Google Play, the HomePod is designed for voice control, with Apple's new offering hosting an array of six microphones.

For connectivity, both Amazon and Google have their units connect through wi-fi and BlueTooth while the Apple HomePod so far only connects by wi-fi only.

Assuming Apple follows the same plan with the HomePod, pre-orders will probably start being accepted sometime around Black Friday, which is November 24 in 2017.

Firstly, Apple isn't ready to dwindle its price. Apple's HomePod will retail for $349 when it's released later this year. There was also a little something called the ARKit that could enable developers to build a vast augmented reality ecosystem for Apple, just in time for the release of the iPhone 8 this fall.