Like Amazon and Google, Apple has a voice-powered AI assistant. Unlike Amazon and Google, Apple hasn’t put it in your home to listen to your every command. The HomePod will change all that, but don’t start eyeing it to replace your Amazon Echo or Google Home just yet.
Apple’s HomePod is a smart speaker in the strictest sense of the word. It is a speaker that’s listening for your voice commands. However, with a starting price of $350—compared to Amazon’s $100 Echo or Google’s $130 Google Home—it’s clearly aiming for the premium market. Apple engineered this speaker to fill a room with high-quality audio. In theory, you could replace an entire room’s audio system with this speaker.
This means the HomePod is closer in spirit to Sonos than the Amazon Echo. For example, the Sonos One with Alexa ($200) offers similar high-end audio, with a similarly high price tag (though not nearly as high as the HomePod). Both speakers are designed with music aficionados in mind. If you’re the type to get fussy over the quality of your music, or you just constantly have music playing in your home and want it to sound amazing, the HomePod might be for you.
It’s also likely to appeal most to the Apple ecosystem devotees. Streaming with AirPlay and playing nice with Apple Music means that if you’re living in an Apple household, the HomePod will be the most seamless smart speaker experience you could expect. At least with all your Apple products. Apple says that you’ll be able to control other smart home products with your HomePod, but since the Echo and Google Home have such a head start, it’s unlikely it will be as easy or support as many third-party devices as its competitors in that space.
The HomePod will launch on February 9th, but you can pre-order your own on Friday, January 26th if you want to make sure you get one early. Only customers in the US, UK, and Australia will be able to get in on the early action, though. Users in Germany and France will be able to order the HomePod later this Spring.