Amazon Echo vs. Apple HomePod

Which is right for you?

Echo vs. Homepod
Lifewire

The Amazon Echo is one of the best-known smart speakers, while the 2018-released Apple HomePod is a smaller player.

When comparing Amazon Echo vs. Apple HomePod, figuring out which device is best for you depends on several things, including the features that are most important to you and the other devices and services you want to use. We've reviewed these products to help you make your decision.

Overall Findings

Amazon Echo

  • Compatible with non-Apple products and many Apple products.

  • Supports more devices and technologies than HomePod.

Apple HomePod

  • Compatible with Apple products.

  • Best sound quality available.

Both devices do the same sorts of things—play music, control smart home devices, respond to voice commands, and send messages—but they don't do them the same way or equally well. Your decision may depend in part on the technology you already own and use.

Intelligent Assistant: Echo's the Most Skilled

Amazon Echo

  • Alexa more accurate when answering questions.

  • Echo comes preloaded with lots of third-party skills.

Apple HomePod

  • Siri deeping integrated into Apple ecosystem.

  • Limited third-party skills.

The thing that makes a "smart" speaker smart is the voice-activated assistant built into it. For HomePod, that's Siri. For Echo, it's Alexa. To get the most out of these tools, you'll want one that can do the most. That's Alexa. While Siri is good, Alexa is better. Alexa can do more things, thanks to "skills" created by third-party developers. HomePod supports only a few third-party skills. Beyond that, tests have found that Alexa is more accurate in answering questions and responding to commands than Siri.

Streaming Music: It's a Tie

Amazon Echo

  • Native support for Spotify, Pandora, and others except Apple Music.

  • Plays Apple Music via Bluetooth.

Apple HomePod

  • Native support for Apple Music.

  • Plays other services via AirPlay.

Both the Echo and HomePod support a ton of streaming music services, so which speaker you prefer probably depend son your preferred music provider. Echo offers native support for all the big names—Spotify and Pandora, among others—except for Apple Music. You can, however, play Apple Music to the Echo over a Bluetooth connection. HomePod has native support only for Apple Music, but you can play all the other services using AirPlay. If you're a heavy Apple Music user, HomePod delivers a better experience because it supports Siri voice commands and delivers better sound quality—but Spotify fans may prefer the Echo.

Sound Quality: HomePod Is the Clear Winner

Apple HomePod
Apple Inc.

Amazon Echo

  • Decent sound quality.

Apple HomePod

  • Best sounding smart speaker on the market.

Without question, the HomePod is the best-sounding smart speaker on the market. That's no surprise: Apple is obsessed with delivering great audio quality and designed the HomePod to primarily serve as a music accessory. In fact, it emphasized audio over the smart features. If audio quality matters most to you, get the HomePod, but the Echo's speaker is decent, and the device's other capabilities may offset the somewhat lesser audio quality.

Smart Home: Echo Supports More Devices

smart home
narvikk / Getty Images

Amazon Echo

  • Supports most smart home device standards, except HomeKit.

Apple HomePod

  • Supports only HomeKit smart home technology.

One of the big promises of smart speakers is that they can sit at the center of your smart home and let you control your lights, thermostat, and other internet-connected devices by voice. On this front, the speaker you want depends mostly on the other smart-home devices you have. The HomePod supports Apple's HomeKit standard (which is also used on iOS devices like the iPhone). The Echo doesn't support HomeKit, but it supports other standards, and a huge number of smart-home devices have Echo-compatible capability.

Messaging and Calls: It's a Tie

amazon echo show
Photo from Amazon

Amazon Echo

  • Echo makes phone calls.

  • Sends SMS text messages.

Apple HomePod

  • HomePod accepts transferred calls from iPhones.

  • Sends SMS text messages and Apple secure iMessages.

Both the Echo and the HomePod can help you communicate via phone or text message. Exactly how they do this is slightly different, though. The HomePod doesn't make calls itself. Instead, you transfer a call from your iPhone to the HomePod and use it as a speakerphone. The Echo can make the call right from the device, and some models of the Echo support video calling. For text messages, both devices offer largely the same features, except that the Echo doesn't send messages via Apple's secure iMessage platform, which the HomePod does.

Form Factor and Home Use: Echo Takes the Prize

amazon echo spot
Photo from Amazon

Amazon Echo

  • Multiple device designs.

Apple HomePod

  • Only one model.

The HomePod is a new device that comes in only one size and shape. The Echo is much more varied and offers different models for all sorts of uses. There's the cylindrical Echo or Echo Plus, the hockey-puck-sized Echo Dot, the alarm-clock-style Echo Spot, the video-calling-centric Echo Show, and even a fashion-oriented tool called the Echo Look. All in all, the Echo is more versatile in its size, shape, and focus.

Multiple Users: Echo

Amazon Echo

  • Distinguishes voices and responds accordingly.

Apple HomePod

  • Doesn't distinguish among multiple users.

  • Possible privacy concern.

If you have more than one person in your house who wants to use the smart speaker, the Echo is your best bet. That's because the Echo can distinguish between voices, learn who they belong to, and respond differently based on that recognition. HomePod can't do that. This isn't just a limitation, it could be a privacy risk. Because HomePod can't determine that your voice is yours, anyone could walk into your house, ask Siri to read your text messages, and hear them (as long as your iPhone is in the house, that is). Expect HomePod to gain multiuser support and better privacy measures eventually, but for now, the Echo is further along in those areas.

Apple Ecosystem Integration: HomePod is the Best Choice

homepod with siri
Apple Inc.

Amazon Echo

  • Doesn't integrate with all Apple devices.

Apple HomePod

  • Excellent integration with other Apple products.

If you're already heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem—Macs, iPhones, iPads, and HomeKit security devices—HomePod is your best bet. That makes for simple setup, more interoperability, and smoother functioning. The Echo can work with a number of these devices, though not all, and you won't get the benefit of all of Apple's products and services through the Echo.

Final Verdict

Amazon Echo is the clear best choice because it is compatible with so many different devices and security protocols.

However, if you are already involved with Apple products and HomeKit devices, give Apple's HomePod a look. It's tightly integrated into the Apple ecosystem and works seamlessly with those devices and Apple services such as iCloud.