Flirting with Alexa – Should HomePod be Worried??
First, I would like to start this article by stating I am a Mac. Some might even say that I can be an “Apple Fanboy / Apple Fanatic” at times. One thing is certain, I’ve definitely joined the Apple cult. Once you’ve joined Apple’s cult, it’s tough to get out of it… mostly because you don’t want to!
The benefits of being a cult member are just too sweet! Being in Apple’s cult comes with perks like:
- Excellent customer service!
- Getting to flash stylish products that make you look cool!
- A great digital ecosystem where your devices almost always work together seamlessly!
- Paying more than you did for your first car to buy a laptop or new iPhone!
Okay, maybe the last point isn’t as fun as it sounds, but to be honest, being in the Apple cult is typically pretty awesome.
One of my favorite parts of being in the cult is live streaming Apple’s yearly World Wide Developers Conference. It’s a time when Apple “puffs it’s chest out” and hypes up their new products they’ll be releasing. Which allows them to show the world exactly why Apple is the world’s best company!
Last year during this conference Apple announced that it will finally be releasing a smart speaker to compete with the likes of Amazon’s Echo and the Google Home. I was excited! Finally, Apple had decided to release a product to compete with the hottest tech devices on the market. It was a little late for Apple to finally get into the game, but it’s not uncommon for Apple to be late to the game and still come out MVP.
But then, Apple dropped a bombshell… Apple’s smart speaker, the “HomePod,” wouldn’t be available until December 2017, and would cost $350. 😩😩😩. This was a huge blow to my Apple fandom. The truth is, while waiting for Apple to finally release a smart speaker of their own, I had received an Amazon Echo Dot as a gift and I was beginning to really warm up to it.
When you first get a smart speaker it feels overrated. It feels like a toy. You use it to do goofy stuff that has no value and that’s the end of it. But as time goes on and you start to use your smart speaker, you eventually find it to be pretty useful. I had doubted the usefulness of a smart speaker because my experience with Apple’s Siri has been inconsistent.
I’ve had a less than 50% response rate when yelling “Hey, Siri” to wake her to ask a question. Also, when I finally got Siri to respond so I could ask a question, her answers often resulted in her essentially telling me that she can ask Google for the answer. This has not been my experience with Alexa. Whenever I call for Alexa, she is very responsive, and when I ask her a question she’s actually helpful. In fact, not only is Alexa helpful, she’s also useful.
Amazon has made it easy for device makers to release smart devices that can be controlled by Alexa. This means that I can buy inexpensive plugs and lights that I can easily control with my voice through my Alexa enabled device. This has been an great experience and marks when I started to grow a small crush on Alexa (😏). She isn’t perfect, but she’s almost everything I hoped Siri would be. The only big drawback for Alexa… she doesn’t effortlessly sync with my Apple devices (🤦🏿♂️).
Months go by since Apple’s conference, and I’m anxiously waiting for Apple to announce the release date for the HomePod. But during this time I’ve been starting to pick up more cheap smart devices that work with Alexa, and my crush on Alexa is starting to feel more like something that could grow into a real relationship.
December finally rolls around, and I’m excited. Since Apple announced the HomePod I’ve been telling anyone that would listen that the HomePod is the only thing I want for Christmas. As soon as December starts I go online every day for weeks to check when Apple will start allowing pre-order for the HomePod. Eventually, some news is released about the HomePod, and to my dismay, I new information released is that the HomePod has been pushed back to sometime in “early” 2018… 😒… WHAT?! 😩😩😩😩😩😩😩😩😩😩. How could Apple do this to me?! I was devastated. By this point, the HomePod had become equivalent to my two front teeth as the only thing I cared about to have a merry Christmas.
Christmas came and went and during that time I received another Amazon Echo device and my first real smart home device, the Ecobee4. The Ecobee4 is a smart thermostat that works with both Apple’s HomeKit and Amazon’s Alexa, and also has Amazon’s Alexa built in. After controlling my smart thermostat through both system’s I’ve found Alexa to be a more convenient assistant to help me control my Ecobee4. Honestly, at this point, I’m not sure if it’s because Alexa is actually better, or if it’s because I have more experience with Alexa but using Alexa is currently my preference.
Check out the Ecobee4 HERE!
Fast forward today, Apple Finally decided to pull the plug for pre-orders for HomePod! It will be released on February 9th. The problem is, at this point The HomePod really has some high standards to meet. During the time I’ve been waiting for the HomePod to be released, Amazon has partnered to release some really great devices including the Sonos One.
Pre-Order the Apple HomePod HERE!
The major selling point for the HomePod which is stilled priced at $350 is the expected sound quality. The issue for Apple is, Sonos is known for having amazing sound quality and the Sonos One works great as a smart speaker thanks to the addition of Alexa. So not only does the Sonos One look like a great opportunity, it’s also priced at less than $200.
Check out the Sonos One HERE!
My wait for Apple to release a smart speaker has been long and disappointing. And while I’ve been waiting for Apple’s release, Amazon’s Alexa enabled devices have been slowly chipping away at Apple’s advantages as the number of these devices steadily increase in my household. This fling I’m currently having with Alexa is looking like it might turn into a full-blown relationship. At this point, I’m seriously debating switching away from my music subscription service from Apple to Amazon which could be the first major wall of defense to fall in the World’s most valued company.
What do you guys think? Is HomePod too late for the party? Sound off in the comments below!