Apple’s first new major product since the Apple Watch was announced this week: It’s called HomePod, and it’s unlike anything Apple has done before.
It’s a speaker, yes, but it’s also a home assistant powered by Siri. It’s Apple’s equivalent of the Amazon Echo or the Google Home — but mixed with a bit of the Sonos home speaker concept.
Apple CEO Tim Cook says HomePod is Apple’s attempt to “reinvent home music.” But what makes it different from the competition? Why would someone spend the extra money for HomePod?
Here are the best answers we’ve found.
If you’re familiar with Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home, you’re familiar with the HomePod.
Which is to say, “HomePod is a combination speaker/microphone that both plays music and responds to your voice requests.”
—In the case of Amazon Echo, a digital voice assistant named Alexa powers the experience.
—In the case of Google Home, a digital voice assistant named Google Assistant powers the experience.
—In the case of Apple’s HomePod, Siri powers the experience.
Siri can play music, tell you the weather, and even power various devices in your home.
What makes HomePod different from the competition? In short: Apple stuff.
Are you an Apple Music subscriber? HomePod is probably perfect for you. And that’s because Apple’s subscription music service doesn’t really work with Amazon Echo or Google Home.
Sure, you could connect to the Echo or the Home as Bluetooth devices, but that stinks. You want to be able to speak with these devices and for them to play music that you requested. If you want to do that with Apple Music, HomePod is your only real choice.
On the flip side, HomePod does work with music services other than Apple Music — but only through Apple’s Airplay 2 functionality. Think of it like Bluetooth with a different name; you can play music from any service that supports Airplay 2 through your phone. That said, you couldn’t just say, “Hey Siri, play Kendrick Lamar on Spotify.” Voice control will work only if you’re using Apple services.
Apple is selling HomePod as a fantastic speaker first and foremost.
The speaker aspect of HomePod is at the forefront of Apple’s marketing. When the device was introduced this week at Apple’s annual developer conference, WWDC, the first thing that Apple’s senior vice president of marketing, Phil Schiller, spoke about was audio quality.
More directly: Apple seems to be targeting folks who buy stuff like the Sonos Play 3 speaker rather than folks who buy devices like the Amazon Echo.
“The speaker delivers the deepest and cleanest bass possible, with low distortion,” Apple’s PR says….