The Apple HomePod
Apple’s HomePod speaker wants to put Siri in our living rooms, but how does it stack up against its rivals?
Apple’s upcoming HomePod speaker wants to get Siri into our living rooms too – but how well does it stack up against its rivals?
Apple doesn’ t want to admit it, but HomeKit has fallen way behind Amazon and Goo gle
Vice president of Worldwide Marketing at Apple, Phil Schiller’s explanation for the introduction of the HomePod speaker was simple: “We love music,” he said. He then went into loving detail about the HomePod’s great sound, its “seven beamforming tweeters,” and “real-time acoustic modeling.”
Then, right at the end of its introduction at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), he casually mentioned that the HomePod also works with Apple’s HomeKit platform and the Home app in iOS 10. This is the real key: Building HomeKit into the HomePod means that Apple finally has a voice-controlled smart assistant that can compete with Amazon Echo and Google Home.
Apple doesn’t want to admit it, but HomeKit has fallen way behind Amazon and Google in the smart home market. So the HomePod is actually a carefully disguised change of strategy from Apple, and it means that the battle for control of our living rooms has just begun for real.
But what, if any, advantages does the HomePod have over Amazon and Google’s more established smart assistants? Let’s see.
At a fundamental level, Siri, Goo gle Home, and Amazon Echo’s Alexa all work in very similar ways
Apple has had an eye on home automation for a long time. Siri was able to control lights, thermostats, and other home devices long before Amazon Echo and Google Home got in on the act. Yet it’s Amazon and Google that have grabbed all the headlines recently – until, that is, Apple announced its new HomePod speaker system at WWDC in June. So how was it that Apple found itself uncharacteristically on the back foot in this important new market?
At a fundamental level, Siri, Google Home, and Amazon Echo’s Alexa all work in very similar ways. You speak to them – perhaps asking about the weather, giving an instruction to play some music on Spotify, or telling them to turn off your living room lights – and your voice commands are shunted across the internet to a server at Apple, Amazon, or Google. The server translates your voice commands, and then prompts your device to respond with the required information or actions.
There are some differences in emphasis. Google Home can draw on the vast power of the company’s search engine to root out even the most obscure snippets of information, while the Echo can plug into Amazon’s global sales network and send a drone to airlift a pizza to your front door. Siri works well with other iOS apps on your iPhone,
A Siri animation plays on the HomePod’s top side in response to interactions.
Google Home has a lot of promise as it looks to extend its “skills” in the future.