Apple usually isn't the first to release a new technology or product concept but it has always focused on innovating products that deliver a premium user experience. With the HomePod, Apple aims to do the same with the home assistant speaker product category that Amazon has dominated since the launch of the Amazon Echo.
Like Google Home and Amazon Echo, the HomePod introduced by Apple also incorporates a voice control platform to allow users to connect to their Apple HomeKit enabled devices. The HomePod is Apple's first Smart Home device acting as a networked speaker that could always listen to your commands over Wi-Fi. While Amazon Echo has Alexa and Google Home has Google Assistant, the Apple HomePod uses the Siri voice assistant which is finally released from the confines of having to be close to your phone. You can now talk to Siri from anywhere in the room that your HomePod is placed in, even while it's playing music.
When plugged in, the HomePod would work just like other smart home hubs which you can ask it to play some music, fetch the weather forecast or news, or control some of your HomeKit smart home devices. The HomePod would be an idea Home Hub that you could use to remotely access and control your HomeKit devices but Apple appears to still use the Apple TV and iPad products for that.
While Google Home and Amazon Echo are budget-friendly, the Apple HomePod comes off as a premium Apple product. The HomePod promises to deliver high quality sound through its built-in custom audio technology which is able to optimize how it delivers sound based on the room's acoustics that it senses.
It is designed to work together with Apple Music allowing you to enjoy a variety of songs from a large music database. You can use the Siri voice assistant to control your playlist. Saying “Hey Siri, play something different” could prompt Siri to skip to the next song in the playlist for you.
To connect the HomePod to your HomeKit enabled devices, all you need to do is just pair your Smart Home devices to the Apple Home App, and you will be able to control them easily from your iOS device (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Apple TV) that accepts Siri voice commands.
The 7-inch tall HomePod is covered in mesh fabric material and has seven beamforming tweeters to allow you to hear from any direction. It also comes with six far-field sensing and one low-frequency calibration microphones. By comparison, Amazon Echo has seven far-field microphones while Google Home supports only two.
Like Google Home which supports multi-room control via Chromecast Audio, the Apple HomePod also provides this feature using Apple's updated AirPlay 2 wireless audio streaming technology. With AirPlay 2, you can now connect your HomePod speaker to be controlled and automated with our HomeKit devices. You can also sync between multiple HomePods in different rooms of your home, which could also work with other AirPlay 2 enabled speakers. Adding AirPlay 2 audio steaming compatibility to HomeKit plays to Apple's strength in audio and music to help differentiate its smart home automation offerings.
Similar to Google Home, the Apple HomePod also comes with a smooth top surface that contains LED and is sensitive to touch gestures to play/pause, or adjust the volume. The LED offers a live waveform simulation with every voice command received.