Apple HomePod VS Amazon Echo: Which One Should You Buy

Speaking to USA Today in an interview published on Wednesday, Amazon senior vice president of devices David Limp seemed unmoved by Apple's new smart home speaker HomePod. Its products dominated the wireless audio, soundbar, subwoofer, loudspeaker, and even audio amplifier categories of CE Pro's 2017 CE Pro 100 Brand Analysis, so clearly despite all the moaning and groaning, integrators are using them.

Now, more tech companies are rushing out their own versions of the device. It's more than a speaker, though, as it can tell you the news and weather, or control connected home electronics like lighting or shades. Of course, it is controlled via an automatic voice interaction with Siri and has three key attributes. "I went to ask Siri, 'Who are Foals?' And it responded with 'Philz Coffee.' And then I said, 'What are Foals?' And it said, 'The Falls'". Yes, it's the long-rumoured Siri speaker we've all been waiting for.

What is it used for? Its entry into digital-music sales with iTunes, and into the smartphone market with the iPhone, upended those industries and gave them mass appeal.The company rolled out new tools for developers to create augmented reality applications for iPhones and iPads.Apple shares closed down 1 percent at $153.93, not far below the all-time high set last month. The Echo is handy for ordering things from Amazon Prime, but it struggles with answering basic knowledge questions.

Google has a product of its own called Google Home and its great benefit is that it understands Chromecast so it can interact with my TV and stereo system wirelessly.

Amazon is hardly the first big tech company to push for interoperability. Google sells Home for US$180, promoting the smart speakers with discounts.

HomePod has a LED on top of it, which turns on when you use the Hey Siri, just like the other Apple Devices.

Alexa - just like the Amazon website - is sprawling and a little untidy around the edges.

Microsoft and Harman Kardon, a subsidiary of Samsung Electronics, are slated to release a voice-enabled speaker that plays music and handles everyday lifestyle tasks like managing calendars and checking for traffic this fall. And not being first to market means Apple's HomePod faces stiff competition from Amazon Echo, Google Home, and later this year high-end Sonos speakers will come with Amazon's Alexa voice assistant, putting them head-to-head with Homepod, too.

But at US$349 (S$480) in the US, the HomePod is almost twice as expensive as the Echo (US$179.99) and three times the price of the Google Home (US$109). "People at Apple's anxiety level went up a notch", said a former member of Apple's Siri team.

Yet Monday's announcement, rather than being routine, was the result of a negotiation stretching back at least to 2015 when Amazon stopped selling Apple TVs on its retail site.

What services and apps do they work with? The upgrade puts Apple's streaming music framework on par with Google's Chromecast for audio, which already supports multiroom audio.

Apple can't do home control quite like Amazon or Google if it never supports third-party platforms.

In a blog post Technalysis Research founder Bob O'Donnell depicted Apple's latest product news as an affirmation that the company has not fallen behind competitors and is working to take advantage of potentially exciting new technologies.