Google Home vs. Apple HomePod

Which one is right for you? It depends on how you plan to use it

With so many similar options available, it's hard to figure out which smart speaker is the best choice to welcome into your home. While Apple's HomePod was released after the Google Home, they are far closer in age than you might expect. We compare the two in several key areas.

Google Home vs Apple HomePod

Overall Findings

Google Home
  • Draws on Google's vast database.

  • Supports third-party music streaming apps.

  • Support for multi-room audio.

  • Controls major smart-home devices.

Apple HomePod
  • More limited than Google when accessing information and performing tasks.

  • Lacks native support for services other than Apple Music.

  • Best-in-class sound quality.

  • Controls major smart-home devices.

Deciding whether HomePod or Google Home is the best device for you depends on how you plan to use it. Both speakers can do the same kinds of things—answer questions, set timers, control smart-home devices, stream music—but the ways they do them, and the tools they use, can be pretty different.

Curious about how HomePod stacks up to the Amazon Echo? Check out​ Amazon Echo vs Apple HomePod: Which One Do You Need?​

The Best Intelligent Assistant: Google Is Hard to Beat

Google Home
  • Google Assistant is a powerful, flexible tool.

  • Draws on Google's vast database of information, so it's great at answering questions.

  • Supports third-party apps/actions.

  • Doesn't support secondary calendars (e.g. personal and work calendar for the same user).

  • If you have multiple devices near each other, they can all respond to the "OK Google" launch phrase, which is confusing.

Apple AirPod
  • "Hey Siri" is smart enough to only have the correct device respond when prompted.

  • Siri is much more limited than Google Assistant when it comes to accessing information and performing tasks.

  • HomePod doesn't allow third-party apps or skills on the device (but some iPhone apps can have them added).

The thing that makes a smart speaker smart is the intelligent assistant that listens for your voice and responds to your commands. It's not the only factor in deciding which speaker is best for you, but it's a big one. There's no question that Google Assistant is far ahead of Siri. Siri can respond well to a limited set of commands and questions, but Google Assistant can respond well to a wider set of scenarios and draws from a larger pool of information.

Streaming Music: It's a Tie

Google Home
  • Supports Google Play Music and YouTube Music, which are not natively supported on other smart speakers.

  • Built-in support for Spotify, iHeartRadio, and others.

  • No Apple Music support.

Apple AirPod
  • Native support for Apple Music.

  • Other music services streamed using AirPlay.

  • Lack of native support for services other than Apple Music.

Streaming music is one of the best uses for a smart speaker. Just shouting out "play some happy music" is both a fun trick and a great mood lifter. Both speakers can play virtually any streaming music service you prefer. The difference is really native support. HomePod delivers native Apple Music support, which means it can be controlled via voice, but it supports all streaming over AirPlay. The same is true for Google Home, except it has native support for Google services and streams over Bluetooth. Your preferred service should guide your decision, but fundamentally, you can stream virtually anything on both devices.

Sound Quality: Apple Is Best-in-Class

Google Home
  • Support for multi-room audio (all Google Home devices in the house playing the same audio).

  • Lower-quality sound than HomePod.

Apple HomePod
  • Best sound quality among all smart speakers, according to many different tests.

  • Siri can hear you even when audio volume is high, so you don't have to shout.

The range of music services supported by a smart speaker isn't the only thing to pay attention to. You want your music or podcasts to sound fantastic. Apple has positioned HomePod as an audio device first, a smart speaker second, and it shows in the sound quality. It sounds clear, detailed, and huge. Google Home delivers decent sound, but can't match the room-rattling HomePod.

Smart Home: Control Your Thermostat, Lights, And More

Google Home
  • Controls major smart-home devices, like the Nest Thermostat or Philips Hue lightbulbs.

  • Native support for Chromecast​.

  • Fewer compatible devices than Amazon Echo.

Apple HomePod
  • Controls major smart-home devices, like Nest and Hue lights, via Apple's HomeKit standard.

  • Fewer compatible devices than Amazon Echo.

If you're making your home smarter with internet-connected, app-controlled smart home gadgets, both HomePod and Home can help. You can speak to either device and ask them to raise or lower the temperature, turn off the lights, or perform any number of other tasks. While neither device supports as many smart home devices like the Amazon Echo, both of them work with most of the major offerings. HomePod has the added benefit of HomeKit support, which means devices can be controlled from your iOS devices as well. You should double-check that your preferred smart home gadgets work with the speaker you're interested in buying, but you shouldn't run into many problems.

Messaging and Calls: To Text or Not to Text

Google Home
  • Make calls directly from Google Home.

  • No official support for text messaging.

Apple HomePod

With a smart speaker in your house, sending texts and making phone calls doesn't require your smartphone—but both Home and HomePod have some notable limitations in these areas. HomePod has a slight edge since it can support both calls and texts, albeit with a few hiccups. Google Home, on the other hand, can only send texts with awkward workarounds. Neither option is ideal.

Form Factor and Use in the House: Google Gets Colorful

Google Home
  • Three different sizes for different uses and rooms.

  • Mini comes in four colors—white, slate, aqua, and coral.

Apple HomePod
  • Comes in black or white.

  • Attractive styling.

  • High-quality construction and materials.

Different rooms and uses may call for smart speakers that come in different shapes and styles. The HomePod is typical of Apple hardware: beautifully designed, built to the highest standards, but also somewhat limited in its style options. If versatility and adaptability are what you want out of your smart speaker, Google Home—with its multiple sizes and colors—is your best bet.

Multiple Users: Tools For the Whole Family

Google Home
  • Supports up to 6 users​ and recognizes their voices.

  • Can respond with individualized content, such as calendars and playlists.

  • Can't delete, edit, or cancel events by voice.

Apple HomePod

If you've got more than one person in your household, you'll have more than one person who wants to use your smart speaker. But different smart speakers work with multiple users in different ways. The HomePod's single-user support is deeply limited for multi-person households, putting it behind Google Home (and very far behind the Amazon Echo, which has pretty sophisticated multi-user support). Between these two devices, only Google Home offers anything approaching a tool that works for the whole family.

Ecosystem Integration: Access a Broad Range of Services

Google Home
  • Deep integration with Google services and devices, such as Chromecast.

  • No connection to Apple services.

Apple HomePod
  • Deep integration with Apple services like Apple Music, iCloud, and iMessage.

  • No connection to Google services.

When buying a smart speaker, make sure you get one that works well with the broadest range of services and gadgets you use. That kind of compatibility makes these devices most useful. Like the streaming music services category, this one is mostly a toss up that is determined by what ecosystem you're already invested in. If you own a lot of Apple products, HomePod will interact with them smoothly and offer deep connections. On the other hand, Google fans will find Home gives them the best experience. 

Final Verdict: Google Home Stands Out

It's fair to say both Google Home and Apple HomePod are behind the Amazon Echo in terms of features, third-party app support, and speed at which they're developing. But Echo isn't part of this comparison. 

When comparing just Google Home vs. Apple HomePod, Home stands out thanks to its more advanced features, multi-user support, and third-party apps. The smarts in the smart speaker are also a big advantage: Google Assistant is a lot smarter than Siri. 

HomePod is a great device if you primarily want to use it for music and other audio playback. But if you're looking for a versatile smart speaker with a well-rounded feature set, Google Home is the pick.