What is the Best Voice Assistant: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or the upcoming Apple HomePod?
It’s already obvious that the consumer market moves in the direction of smart homes and appliances with Internet of Things, augmented and virtual reality devices. One of the central devices in the future smart homes will be the smart speakers with built-in voice assistant like Amazon Alexa, Google assistant ot Apple HomePod. Which one to choose? Let’s take a look.
Amazon Alexa has been around since November 2015. The series of Echo smart speakers with Alexa on board have made their way into a great number of households and hearts worldwide. The speakers are rather slim, stylish and lightweight, with two button controls (wake and mic on/off) and a detailed voice configuration. They do require an Amazon app running on your mobile device to use, but they allow swift and uninterrupted access to the whole variety of Amazon (and partners) services.
A year later, back in November 2016, Google has introduced their smart speakers — Google Home, carrying the might of Google’s 17 years of search and experience within. These speakers, equipped with Google Assistant, help you control a variety of smart devices in your household and do a convenient googling for any topic you might imagine, while also listening to your favorite music. These speakers are much bigger and weigh more than the Amazon’s counterpart, also have the wake and mute buttons and use the Wi-Fi connection to exchange content with the Google’s online behemoth in order to carry out your orders.
An upcoming Apple HomePod, which was presented at WWDC in June and is due to be released in the December of 2017, will be a speaker grille, with the whole side surface being a fabric-covered speaker. It’s weight is around 2.5 kgs and it is much higher than Google Home, yet a little bit lower than the Amazon’s cylinder. The main feature of Apple Homepod the company emphasizes on is not being a smart control center, however — it’s being a superior sound system with Siri on board.
While Amazon’s device costs £149.99 and Google Home is sold for £129, Apple’s device will cost $350 and £350 across the pond, regardless of the currency exchange rate. The first question to come to mind is – why would people pay £200 more for just a speaker system?
One of the possible answers is Siri. Apple’s AI is already present in iPhones, iPads, across a variety of Macs and Macbooks and is able to interact with a plethora of different gadgets. When becoming accessible through a centralized speaker system with sensitive microphones, Siri will become the rightful control and synchronization tool for all your Apple devices. However, Apple did not explicitly state that HomePod will become the smart center of the house. Instead, they made a point at the speaker providing a superior sound quality. Which is quite strange, as iTunes provides rather lower-bitrate samples, which will not sound significantly better on any smart speaker system.
Thus said, there are two equally possible reasons for such situation:
- Apple seriously expects its fans to pay $350 just for the good sound for their music and a centralized Siri access point
- Apple has some HomePod functionality up their sleeve, which is not yet fully tested and not yet revealed. This functionality might justify the price tag after being announced and might tip the balance to force Apple fans buy otherwise useless HomePod.
If the latter is correct, we are eagerly waiting for HomePod release, which is due in December 2017. This smart speaker and voice assistant system has all odds to become the market leader within the next couple of years, due to huge Apple fan base, who adore using Siri in new ways to improve their everyday user experiences.
If the former is correct, however, HomePod risks following the route of other overpriced Apple products, who caused only slight notion within the audience. As of now both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa do their job pretty well, yet have their limitations. Apple is known to not always being the first, yet quite often being the best. In half a year we will know if HomePod is going to become the epicenter of a smart infrastructure – or merely an overpriced speaker with voice control.