If you’re in the market for a high-end, great-sounding smart speaker, you have a tough choice to make: Apple’s HomePod, or Google’s Home Max?
Both speakers offer incredible sound, built-in smart assistants, and the power of two tech behemoths behind them. They even cost a similar price at $350 and $400, respectively.
But Google Home Max has several crucial advantages over HomePod, advantages that make it a smarter buy than Apple’s new offering:
1. Google Home Max has the powerful Google Assistant built in.
Google Home Max has Google Assistant built in, Google’s powerful smart assistant. It can do everything from look up recipes to answer trivia questions to tell you jokes — it’s the same Assistant Google has built into its Pixel phones and other Google Home devices.
HomePod has Siri, Apple’s digital assistant. But Siri on HomePod is not the same as Siri on the iPhone. It’s limited in its abilities, so it can’t do things like look things up on the internet or place calls for you. And Siri, in general, is nowhere near as flexible or as comprehensive as Google Assistant, when it comes to connecting to your various smart-home devices and answering questions.
2. Google Home Max supports multiple users.
Google Home Max can recognize voices and support multiple users. This is helpful for personalization reasons — it knows who is asking for what — but it’s also helpful for privacy reasons.
By contrast, HomePod can’t recognize voices, so anyone in your house can say, “Hey Siri, read my most recent text” and it will read aloud texts from the device it’s paired with.
3. Google Home Max can do stereo pairing right out of the box.
If you buy two Google Home Max devices, they can wirelessly pair to create a stereo experience. HomePod will eventually be able to do that too, but not for several months.
4. Google Home Max has Bluetooth, so it works with any type of phone.
Google Home Max can connect to either Android or iOS devices using Bluetooth.
HomePod, on the other hand, uses Apple’s proprietary streaming technology, AirPlay, which only allows HomePod to connect to an iOS device. Android owners are simply out of luck.
5. Google Home Max has audio inputs.
Google Home Max has several inputs on the back of the device, which means you can plug in any device and play music through the speaker.
HomePod doesn’t have any inputs, so again, if you have an Android phone, you can neither stream wirelessly through the device nor plug your phone in.
6. Google Home Max works with several streaming services.
Google Home Max will support Google Assistant using the following streaming services:
– Google Play Music
– YouTube Music
HomePod supports Siri from a handful of audio sources, but they’re all Apple-related:
– iTunes Music Purchases
– iCloud Music Library with an Apple Music or iTunes Match subscription
– Beats 1 Live Radio
7. Google Home Max can stand vertically or lay horizontally, depending on your space.
This isn’t a crucial feature by any means, but it’s a helpful one. While Google Home Max is bigger than HomePod, it works either standing vertically or sitting horizontally, which means it may fit in more places in your home.
8. Google Home Max supports multi-room audio.
If you have more than one Google Home, you’ll be able to play the same song through each one. This is a great feature for parties — the same music can stream through your kitchen Home and your living room Home.
HomePod doesn’t support multi-room audio, at least not yet. Apple says that feature is coming with the release of AirPlay 2. If you buy a HomePod now, you’ll get the new functionality through an update later this year.