We have thought for a while now that Apple was working on a smart speaker. As it turns out, the HomePod announced at WWDC 2017 is not quite the equal of the Google Home or Amazon Echo.
Apple insists the Siri powered speaker is primarily a music device with superior audio. As you'd expect, it charges slightly more than its apparent rivals too.
Yet the relative affordability and usefulness of Home and Echo has driven sales as people discover how voice assistants can improve little things in their lives. Google and Amazon also have the advantage as they've been out for months whereas the HomePod is yet to hit the shelves.
Here's a comparison of all three.
Price and availability
Apple's as yet unreleased HomePod will cost a confirmed US $349, and we predict it'll be a straight £349 in the UK. Apple usually picks the same numerical price for us on this side of the pond despite the exchange rate.
HomePod will be released in the US, UK and Australia in December 2017.
That's £200 more than both Google and Amazon's alternatives. Supposedly the HomePod has superior audio, but without a review unit yet, Google and Amazon deliver smart speaker function at a fraction of the price.
The HomePod is a curious design, but then again there's only so much you can do with a standalone speaker. The entire design is speaker grille, with a glowing area on the top - it's not actually clear yet what it's for, but it looks a lot like the Siri logo.
Google Home has an attractive, plump sort of vase design, with the speaker in the lower section and a cut off top half that displays an moving Google Assistant logo and a touch sensitive volume and pause control.
Amazon's Echo is a utilitarian black or white cylinder with it's lower half a speaker as on the Home. The top has two simple buttons for toggling the mics on and off and an action button to wake, turn off alarms and other interactions. The top rim also glows Alexa blue.
Amazon Echo in black or white, with the smaller Echo Dot
Amazon also sells a smaller, puck shaped device called an Echo Dot. This is a tiny Alexa powered device that you can hook up to a better speaker system and performs the same basic function as the larger Echo speaker for only £49.99.
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