Smart home speaker segment is suddenly on fire with the launch of Apple HomePod. How does that affect Amazon Echo or Google Home? Let’s find out.
Apple finally has a contender in the hot new smart home speaker segment in the form of the HomePod. While that makes for another option for you to consider before you splurge in a smart home speaker, here is an attempt to help you make the right choice between Apple HomePod vs Google Home vs Amazon Echo.
To begin with, all three are speakers so to speak. They can fill your room with the music you like, and they all do it reasonably well. Towards that, the Echo comes with a 2.5-inch woofer and a 2-inch tweeter. Amazon also has the smaller Echo Dot that provides with audio out ports that can connect to external speakers, thereby extending its functionality all the more.
Another unique aspect with the Amazon Echo is that it comes with a microphone enabled remote. So in case, you might be in an area from where you aren’t able to reach out to the speaker, you can always do so via the speaker.
Google Home, on its part, features a 2-inch driver and dual 2-inch passive radiators within a frame that’s smaller than the Echo. Sound output isn’t that impressive either compared to the Echo but can still be enough to fill your room.
In comparison, the Apple HomePod has the best credentials and should easily be the best sounding of the three. While it still is to be tested, its arrangement comprising of seven tweeters and a woofer does seem to be the most impressive, on paper at least. Given Apple’s credibility at offering quality products, be rest assured of the HomePod to be able to drown the senses of even the most ardent of music fans.
The HomePod is also compatible with AirPlay 2 that Apple announced at the ongoing WWDC event. That makes the speaker to be able to work in sync with other AirPlay speakers and such. So it is the HomePod that sure has the advantage here so far as quality of output sound is concerned, followed by the Echo.
Also, while still on music, each of the speakers come backed up by their respective music ecosystem. So while Amazon has the Prime Music, the same for Google Home happens to be Google Play Music. That apart, both are compatible with the third party service Spotify.
The likes of Google, Amazon or Apple surely haven’t come up with speakers that are designed to only fill your room with music. And it is here that things take on an exciting turn, for the device are in reality a digital assistant and are there to help sort out many your daily chores. For this, each of the speakers come enabled with a voice-activated digital assistant in the form of Alexa for Echo, Google Assistant for Google Home and Siri for HomePod.
As such, each of the speakers is designed to respond to some of your most basic queries. Those can be like info on the weather outside, latest news headlines, sports scores and such. You can also ask it to play music or set reminders.
Better still, the speakers are designed to perform much more than that. For instance, Amazon Echo has struck partnership with a host of third-party apps such as Domino’s Pizza, Uber and so on. As such, you can verbally order your pizza or book a cab, things that otherwise would have required you to tap a myriad of on-screen buttons.
Google Home too offers built-in connectivity with a host of Google services such as Google Maps or Google translations. That way, you can plan your trip or ask the speaker to translate words for you. In fact, Google seems to have the edge here given that it has several services of its own that can enhance the speaker’s functionality. For the same, Amazon with its core business of online retailing and entertainment has to rely almost entirely on third-party apps.
Apple’s HomePod too should be in the same boat as Google Home and it will be interesting to see how it fares vis-a-vis the Google speaker. Also, each of the digital assistants namely Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri rely on their machine learning algorithms to decipher human commands and act accordingly. Of course, they are nowhere near what real human are able to do but can still prove to be handy and deal with fairly complex issues.
Alexa has been there the longest and undergone several revisions and upgrades to evolve into a truly capable digital assistant. Google too has invested a lot on its machine learning and speech recognition programs and works just fine. However, Siri still seems to require polishing its efforts a bit more to evolve into a true blue digital assistant that you can rely on at all times.
Till then, its Amazon Alexa that seems to have an edge, though just a minor one over the Google Assistant.
The Echo costs $180 which does not make it the cheapest of the trio here though Amazon also has another trick up its sleeve, the Echo Dot that costs just $50. The Google Home is easily the cheapest for a full-scale speaker functionality with its $129 price tag. The Apple HomePod, on the other hand, is the costliest with a price tag of $349.
So which device should make for the best investment considering all that it offers to do? The answer can easily be the Echo which is a tried and tested product with a nice balance of all it is capable of doing, without being overtly superior in any of those. It has pretty decent sound quality, has an ever growing list of the app it is compatible with and is intelligent enough to get done most of your mundane tasks that otherwise would have required you to do manually.
Google has the potential to surpass the Echo given all the services it has within its ambit. Those include maps, translations, music, a huge Android ecosystem of apps and devices, not to mention online search. That is not all as Google also practically knows every online move we make, which means an extensive repository of user information it can make good use of to help its Assistant serve better. It just has to closely knit together all of that, which in itself is an exercise of mammoth proportions. The process has already started but there still are a few loose ends to be stitched together.
All of what applies to Google is equally relevant to Apple as well and it will be really interesting to see how capable its HomePod speaker turns out to be once it is ready.
Till that happens, it is the Amazon Echo that is a clear winner.