Amazon Echo has a problem: Apple’s HomePod has major advantage over rivals

“Amazon has seen huge success with its Alexa-powered Echo but this clever device is getting some serious competition,” David Snelling reports for The Sunday Express. “Google recently announced the launch of its Home speaker, which is now available to buy in the UK, and Apple has just confirmed it’s joining the connected speaker party with a new gadget called the HomePod.”

“Although the HomePod won’t officially be launched until December, Express.co.uk has been one of the first to hear what it actually sounds like and our first impressions are good,” Snelling reports. “We listened to four identical tracks on both the Echo and HomePod and there really is no comparison. The HomePod’s curved mesh design is packed with an upward-facing woofer and seven beam-forming tweeters making it sound loud, clear and booming with room-shaking bass.”

Apple's all-new HomePod
Apple’s all-new HomePod

 
“HomePod also features automatic room-sensing technology which allows it to quickly learn its position in your home and optimise the sound accordingly,” Snelling reports. “We only had a limited time with the HomePod but there’s no question it sounds far superior to the competition.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: At just $349, for all it offers, Apple’s HomePod is a steal!

SEE ALSO:
Apple’s HomePod first impressions: Lots of mystery, impressive sound quality – June 8, 2017
With HomePod, Apple just wants to shake things up (for now) – June 7, 2017
Apple HomePod vs. Amazon Echo – June 7, 2017
CNET: Apple’s HomePod offers superior sound quality vs. Amazon Echo and Sonos Play:3 – June 6, 2017
Apple’s new HomePod sounds incredible! – June 6, 2017
Apple HomePod takes on Amazon Echo – June 6, 2017
Apple reveals HomePod smart home music speaker – June 5, 2017

87 Comments

  1. Which device you purchase really depends on why you want a smart speaker/digital assistant.

    If you want great musical sound buy Apple.

    If you want good sound (Books, News, Speech with some music) at a lower price buy Amazon.

    If you want to be spied on buy Google.

      1. This was my thought exactly. I want the Apple HomePod to connect with my $2000 5.1 surround sound system. I don’t need the built-in speakers. They should offer a speakerless version with optical output or HDMI output.

        1. But I already had it….
          Getting what may be ostensively better (maybe) only cost $40 on sale. Put another way if you have a speaker you like, you don’t need to spend $350 on a speaker you don’t need. And the Dot is not Apple Music only and not Airplay only. From what I can tell no aux input.

          1. There’s a whole lotta use cases, students, young people first apartment, older folks, where they won’t have anything other than the speakers built into their TV. A couple homepods is cheaper than your current set up. Sure if you already have a great audio set up, you don’t need homepod, great. But lots of people don’t have much for good audio. So your current set up costs more than two homepods. I don’t want to hear you complaining about their price then.

            1. Artificially limited? It plays Apple Music and gives you Siri. If that isn’t what you want you don’t buy it, duh. Why would you think about buying something you don’t want?

            2. Wouldn’t it be more like having one network that plays all the shows? I think homepod plays your library also, and music from your other devices with Airplay so you can play anything through it, it’s just the voice commands directly built into the homepod will only access Apple Music. That probably has something to do with accuracy of the voice commands and all the music information you can get by voice from homepod. ALone it is limited to Apple Music, with an iPhone there is no limitation.

            3. If that one network indeed played all shows it would be almost okay. It doesn’t.

              Limitations include having to commit today for what you may want to listen to in the future. A limitation on whether to use a cheap speaker by the pool, thus keeping your good one indoors, etc.

            4. Can’t reply to your other comments for some reason. I have MP3s in iTunes that I play through Airplay, it isn’t limited to an Apple sound source. Your other limitations don’t make sense, no speaker as good as the homepod is going to be cheap. So get a cheap iPhone speaker for your pool and keep a more expensive speaker inside. And play whatever you like over either, the homepod will play from iTunes from what I read. I think there is no limitation on songs then and no lilmitation on sound source. I think you’re wrong on both.

            5. I tested to be sure. Played a song I know is an MP3, indie source (not from iTunes store), worked no problem over Airplay, so you’re definitely wrong about being limited to an Apple sound source. That takes care of your one network issue also. Any song you can put on your iPhone can be played with Airplay so it should be easy to play that on homepod. We’ll know when the final product goes on sale.

            6. You say “I must not have been clear. Isn’t AirPlay an Apple sound source?”

              Airplay is a wireless protocol, not a sound source. Source means the file itself and there are different audio formats/sources. You can play many different kinds of files over Airplay. But yes, you do need an iPhone or other Apple device for that (I do see there are Airplay apps for Android, I wonder if those work). Your problem was with the content. I was just pointing out you were wrong about that. Airplay doesn’t limit content at all because I can put any song on my iPhone and blast that out through homepod.

              “And there you have it. I don’t want to be bound to an iPhone or other Apple device on a speaker.”

              Then don’t buy it (if airplay apps for android realy work you might not even be bound to iPhone). Why are you complaining about a product you wouldn’t buy? homepod isn’t just a speaker, it has many other features. If it was only a speaker I might agree with you. Apple sells bluetooth speakers you can connect to your Android phone. And lots of cheap wireless speakers work with iPhones (I have a free one I got, works okay). Your cheap speaker by the pool problem is solved and there’s no content limitation as you thought. The only problem left is Airplay and it may be that Apple has to use their own solution because of security and other features they want to do with homepod.

            7. Okay, I guess you can’t admit you were wrong about the content limitation so I guess we’re done. have fun being mad at Apple about I’m not sure what exactly.

            8. I’ve been proclaimed wrong, by you, but you haven’t proven anything. Isn’t AirPlay a speaker input, or am I wasting my time?

              Echo Dot + Any Speaker is less limited than Apple Homepod. It’s just math…

          1. Until one says, “Hey, Siri”, HomePod keeps information on the device itself. It is only when one invokes Siri that the information goes to Apple’s servers.

        1. If you say “I’m out of twinkies” with a Google Home in the room, I would not be at all surprised if my Chrome browser offered Twinkies a few minutes later. Google reads your email. Watch the “Scroogled” series on Youtube (a series produced by Microsoft that exposes Googles practices in dead simple animations)

            1. Yes. Apple just stores it (encrypted). Apple apparently does NOT sell it, or use it in order to sell you other stuff.

              Here is a very simple way to find out who is selling your data and who is not: look at who pays for the service. With Apple, you pay for the iCloud, Siri and all others through fat hardware margins. In other words, you can ONLY use Apple’s online services with the hardware you purchase from Apple.

              With Google, you don’t pay for any services. You can sign up for g-mail for free right now, and all the Google services are available to you for free. Who pays for these services? Who is Google’s paying customer? Obviously, it isn’t you (you get them all for free); it is the advertisers. They pay, and the product they pay for is you. They are paying Google for your personal informaiton; your purchasing history, your browsing history, your searching history, your contacts, everything you have in your Google universe, Google sells to their paying customers.

              If you aren’t paying for it, you aren’t a customer; you are the product.

            2. That’s not what lock in (or a walled garden business practice is)

              They aren’t using your info to sell you something via ads and shit, they are using a proprietary system to keep you buying their products or licensed products if you want to maintain compatibility.

              Two completely different things, you can argue the morality of both, but individually because they are not related. One is information gathering/marketing services, the other is hardware/software manipulation.

    1. Most people don’t mind being spied upon and that’s why Google beats Apple at everything and Android OS has such huge market share. 80% of the world uses Google mobile devices so you can see Android devices users are quite happy being spied upon.

      Apple is taking it upon itself to protect user’s privacy. No one asked them to do that. No one ever praises Apple for protecting users’ privacy. In fact, Apple is always highly criticized for not harvesting users’ data like every other company does.

      1. Most people who use Gurgle don’t have any idea what Gurgle’s doing with their information, e.g., they don’t realize when they use Gmail, Gurgle captures data from the 3rd party and adds to their dossier about him / her.

      2. unfortunately most of what you say is true.

        One disagreement is “Google beats Apple at everything ” which isn’t true like building hardware, e.g it’s Pixel phones aren’t half as good as iPhones.

        It’s true though that most Android , Gmail users don’t care that Google spies on them. Apparently Google even has image recognition software to scan people’s photos.

        Google makes billions every month by selling ad space to advertisers, their premium pitch is that they can ‘target’ specific consumers very accurately ( Ballet shoe companies only want to target ballet dancers for example and they are willing to pay more per ad if it’s targeted instead of blinding aiming. )

        I use to work in advertising and I can attest that Google’s advantages to marketers is huge. That’s why they can help politicians win elections as they have so much info.

        Spying also helps Google improve it’s voice assistant, search etc software.

        Apple especially under Cook wants to take the privacy high ground.

        Thing is Apple does not CAPITALIZE really on the privacy advantages. It does not really MARKET it’s advantage (just like it does not market iPhones advantage on handling Malware vs Android). So practically NOBODY except us nerds know Apple’s privacy, less malware etc advantages (which cost Apple tens of billions less revenue in certain areas vs Google who spies) . There are few Apple marketing campaigns that point these things out — nobody except nerds follow MDN, WWDC etc where these things are discussed. (btw Apple didn’t even advertise against Windows during the YEARS of Win 8 fiasco, not one Mac switcher ad…)

        sadly when Siri etc doesn’t work as well as Google’s offerings in some cases people don’t realize one reason Google is better is that it spies.

      3. Actually, most of what you say is NOT true.

        Android in a toaster, fridge, TV, washer/dryer or low tech cheapo cell phone is counted as “Android Market Share”. Really???

        I am asking Apple to protect my privacy…..and millions of others too. Making you THINK that it is necessary to improve products is one of the biggest lies out there.

        Apple DOES harvest data. It harvests ANONYMOUS data. Same benefits in improving device functionality BUT without shitting on the customer.

        With Apple you are the customer. With google you are the product.

        Just because people are happy being spied on today is no case for spying. One day they may grow up and realize…. WTF!? Then they might be a little happy that Apple protected their interests.

        You probably wont understand any of this, sigh.

    2. It’s a given. If you own one of these types of devices you’re gonna be spied on. it’s as simple as that. and someone is gonna profit from the data they collect on you regardless of how harmless you think the company and/or device is.

    3. First, I would add the fact that Amazon’s digital assistants are intended to facilitate consumer purchases in the Amazon ecosystem.

      Second, I would add that Apple’s HomePod offers more than just great musical sound. The HomePod is also a competent digital assistant as well as an expansion of Apple’s broad ecosystem including HomeKit interfacing.

      Third, I would add that Siri is poised for a tremendous improvement in capabilities with iOS 11. It is far too soon for people to cede the digital assistant role to Google and Amazon.

    1. Are you PRETENDING to equate a Lada to a Lambo or are you sincerely an idiot.

      The homepod is obviously packed with greatness as compared to the lousy alternatives and is great value at that price…..which I had expected to be way higher considering whats in the inside.

      Apple! Put me down for two.

      1. DavGreg, what makes you think that you have a clue as to why people up vote or down vote on this forum?

        Once again, you use the derogatory term “fanbois”…somehow you expect people on this forum to agree with you after you basically call them spineless lemmings?

        You clearly need to move on to an Android or Windows site. You add nothing to this forum except your disdain for true Apple fans who, by the way, are more (legitimately) critical of Apple than you or any of the other roaches infesting this forum.

  2. 4 inch drivers do not produce room shaking Bass unless you are living inside a shoebox.

    And, until Apple actually ships a product, there is no threat to anyone else’s product.

    Vaporware, just like the new Mac Pro.

      1. The will not have a large supply of air to move with a long throw if they are enclosed in a small box. If they are not enclosed they will produce sloppy – as opposed to tight- bass. I only like muddy bass if the original source was muddy- not because of a shit speaker design.

        Digital Signal Processing can do some interesting stuff, but it also makes many people’s ears tired after listening for a session. The same is true for many spatial expansion Signal processing schemes. I wonder if it has anything to do with the consistent time base of the digital circuit- impacting the ears the way flicker strains the eyes.

    1. You like to criticize and gripe, DavGreg, but you seldom bother to address the facts, specifications, or other salient issues.

      The Amazon Echo contains a 2.5 inch woofer and 2.0 inch tweeter. The HomePod’s 4″ woofer has 2.56 times the cone area of the Echo woofer (12.57 in^2 compared to 4.91 in^2). Even assuming equivalent audio design (which is unlikely with Amazon), that fact alone would indicate that the HomePod has much greater potential for producing a higher sound pressure level.

      Whether or not it is room shaking is up to the individual and their listening preferences.

      1. I am not a contrarian, but will call Bullshit where I see it and Apple PR is prone to hyperbole.

        I am sure the overpriced HomePod will sound nice compared to other small powered speakers- Apple has good engineers and endless money- but the rules of physics are not subject to the whims of Apple Marketing. Or Fanbois.

  3. Amazon’s Echo has the greatest advantage, by far. Most consumers crave bargains for everything. The much cheaper price will lead the Echo to greater market share percentage. Already the news and tech media acknowledge Alexa is smarter and more versatile than Siri and Apple won’t be able to overcome that stigma. What’s worse, Apple has the disadvantage of trying to protect people’s privacy which will basically cripple Apple’s digital assistant compared to companies who don’t give a damn about user’s privacy.

    Furthermore, the news media will continue to praise Amazon’s Echo and condemn Apple’s HomePod because they don’t like Apple as a company. Even if Apple were to sell as many HomePods as there are Echo units in a shorter time, the HomePod will be considered a failure simply because it is an Apple product. That’s how it always works out for Apple.

  4. Will this only play from Macs and iOS gear?

    And will it not play what’s coming through the cable box or home hi-fi? If so, no deal. I still watch a lot of content from nets not practical to be a cable cutter for and play those things called records even, so multiple pricey speaker systems aren’t in the cards…. …so I’d like to set that up and be able to tell Siri, “Play from dedicated input jack…

    …Still, while a clear kludge, an input jack is probably not gonna happen. This is Apple.

    1. If you are into hi-def sound, which it sounds like you are because you still listen to vinyl, then any Bluetooth speaker is not for you.
      With their tiny speakers and compression used you won’t get a rich, room filling sound from any Bluetooth speaker, not even from Homepod. If you want good sounds a dedicated music system with decent speaker is the only way to go.

      1. …”If you are into hi-def sound, which it sounds like you are because you still listen to vinyl,…”

        How did you connect “hi-def” sound and vinyl?? I understand that there has been this big resursgence of vinyl (much like the resurgence of polaroid photos) for the retro qualities it has, but nobody in their right mind is buying vinyl for its audio quality; certainly NOT over CD (and even MP3 has better audio quality at proper bit rate!).

        And just to explain, for those who may be uninformed: the only possible theoretical advantage where vinyl can have over CD is in higher frequencies, where digital quantization has the potential to introduce unwanted distortion. And even there, the inherent problems of vinyl bring too many issues that quickly wipe out any theoretical advantages.

        The problems with vinyl: numerous. First, stereo cross-talk; practical limits for stereo separation for vinyl are about 35dB. With CD, they don’t exist (stereo channels are essentially two independent audio files), and any cross-talk that exists is introduced later in the analogue audio chain. Second; the RIAA curve — in order to squeeze meaningful amount of music on a single side of the vinyl LP, audio is filtered, so that high frequencies re recorded louder than the lower frequencies. Here is the filter curve:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RIAA_equalization#/media/File:RIAA-EQ-Curve_rec_play.svg

        So, highs are boosted by 20dB, lows are attenuated by 20dB, and then, the preamp in your receiver reverses this, reducing the highs (and, with them, some of the noise picked up along the way) and boosting the bass. None but the most expensive playback devices have truly accurate RIAA filters in their preamps, and the result is an uneven (inaccurate) frequency spectrum.

        Third; the beginning of the album (actually each side of the LP) sounds much better than the ending, since the speed at which the needle goes through the groove is much faster at the outer edge of the LP than towards the centre, since the plate is rotating at constant speed (33.33 rpm). The difference in speed (and thus in audio quality) is quite significant (over 2x).

        Next; extremely loud bass and similar low frequencies must be put in the center of the stereo image; otherwise, if they are put left or right, they will invariably knock the needle out of the groove. This is why symphonic works on vinyl never sounded perfectly authentic (contrabasses are usually on the side of the orchestra, as is often the concert bass drum).

        And then there’s the physical wear and its inherent (and irreversible) noise.

        There is simply no way anyone can conisder vinyl superior to digital under any conditions (regardless of what some subjective opinions may claim).

  5. Typical reactions from people who don’t understand the target audience for a product.

    Apple made it clear that the speaker integrates with Apple Music. If you don’t have a subscription, the device will be severely limited.

      1. It will. That is the severe limitation. Your library may have thousands of tracks, but with Apple Music, the speaker has access to virtually all commercially recorded music ever released, throughout the world (the largest commercial music catalogue in the world).

  6. I don’t think the Echo has been a “huge” success. Many more people don’t have one than do.

    Moreover, these products don’t seem to directly compete.

    For Apple, this is an interesting new category of device. Homepod is a non-portable (yes, you can move it, but it will likely stay in one spot), always on, always responsive product. Years ago there was lot of talk that Apple would make a home server that would be kind of like this.

    HomePod has an unknown amount of memory and storage and an A8 CPU which is no slouch. It seems like this has room to grow. Will we be able to write apps for this? That would be interesting.

  7. If Amazon delivers groceries via Whole Foods in an hour or two through Alexa then the HomePod is going to be even a tougher sell:

    Customer: Alexa, bring me a cooked chicken, baked beans, an apple pie and two rolls of toilet paper.

    Alexa: Your items will be delivered in an hour. I also noticed it was your mother’s birthday on Wednesday. Would you also like to order her favorite flowers?

    Additionally, it might be the perfect time for them to reintroduce their own smartphones or “Her” earbuds. Competent personal assistance like Alexa might not be sexier than Apple’s AR, but currently it is more practical and could drive more electronic sales. Plus, because they now own hundreds of brick and mortar stores they can easily setup an electronics table or two.

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