At WWDC 2017, Apple announced HomePod following months of endless rumors and speculation. HomePod marks Apple’s first move into the smart speaker market where Amazon and Google now dominate. Apple has been adding new features and skills to its speaker since the launch day in an attempt to grab some market ground.
Apple HomePod includes its own innovative features and skills that set it apart from other competitors out there. With the release of iOS 11.4, Apple’s smart speaker gets a big improvement and new features.
One such feature lies in the stereo pairing. As the name implies, the feature allows you to connect two HomePod speakers at the same time and use them as a single external speaker. HomePod also includes support for AirPlay 2’s multi-room audio. This means that you can control your playback across the house without leaving your room.
With those improvements, HomePod ranks among the best smart speakers on the market. However, there is still something missing that prevents it from beating Amazon Echo and Google Home. And, we will help you discover how in the section below.
Before we begin, make sure you now have the latest software update on your HomePod. To update your smart speaker, open the Home app > Compass > Software Update and hit the Update button and agree to terms and conditions.
Lower the price
Apple HomePod is not cheap out there. In fact, it is one of the most expensive smart speakers on the market. Apple’s smart speaker sets you back around $349 in the US, which is much cheaper than the likes of Amazon and Google.
The Amazon Echo now dominates the smart speaker market, with millions of units sold worldwide. Amazon’s speaker now costs $180 in the US, which is pretty fair when compared to other rivals out there.
Google Home is getting better and smarter every year. Google’s smart speaker now charges $130, which is cheaper than the Amazon Echo. With a lower price tag, you will get a voice command, support for Google Play Music, and the ability to control a wide range of smart home appliances.
Apple HomePod is falling behind the Amazon Echo and Google Home in terms of pricing. Rumors say that Apple will offer discounts for its smart speaker during this year’s holiday shopping season to attract more users. In 2016, Apple dropped the price of its Apple Watch, which helped its wearable device stand among the best-selling devices on the market.
Apple Siri is getting smarter every year thanks to Apple regularly adding new features. Apple’s smart speaker can work with HomePod to offer users multiple options to control their smart speaker.
You can ask Siri to play your music. To do this, you simply say “Hey, Siri, play We Don’t Talk Anymore”. Once you do that, Siri will start playing your music through your HomePod. With Siri integration, you can also get the latest news and podcasts.
However, Siri still lacks some important features. One such feature lies in the ability to call an iPhone contact. This is something Amazon Echo has been able to do for a while. Besides, you cannot play music on Spotify or YouTube. HomePod now only works with Apple-approved music services like Apple Music or Beats 1 Live Radio.
Support for third-party services
Apple HomePod is a great smart speaker, but it lacks support for third-party apps and services. In contrast, Google Home and Amazon Echo can work perfectly with a wide range of third-party music services.
You cannot play music from Spotify, Pandora, and YouTube using your voice commands, which is a little disappointing. Apple is expected to open up its HomePod to third-party developers, just like how it did with iOS 10.
According to sources, HomePod will include support for more third-party music services this year. The update will debut at this year’s WWDC event in June.
Add more devices
You can use HomePod to control your smart home appliances. However, HomePod only works with HomeKit-enabled devices, which mean that Apple needs to add more devices in the coming months.
Both Google Home and Amazon Echo now support a wide range of smart home devices, like Nest, Honeywell, SmartThings, Philips Hue, and many more. Sources say that Apple has been in talks with big smart home partners on the market.
One of the best things when it comes to Amazon Echo is that third-party developers can create content for Alexa. This allows Alexa to perform multiple skills, like turning on/off lights or adjusting a thermostat.
In contrast, Apple HomePod comes with very limited skills, which is a little bit disappointing. It seems that Apple needs more time to develop more skills for its HomePod.
Got any questions? Let us know in the comments below.