The tech giants of the day have always worked hard to ensure their proprietary technology rises to dominance in whatever format battle is currently taking place. As with the VHS/Betamax wars of the 1980’s, and the high definition disc format wars of the late 2000’s, the current technology superpowers of Apple, Google and Amazon are currently engaged in a fight for dominance of the smart home software framework market.
This piece simply looks to introduce the big three controlling technology frameworks, but not the myriad of smart home enabled devices that are now available. The rush of product manufacturers to ensure their goods are smart enabled, has seen everything from kettles to swimming pools cleaners develop into smart home networked devices, and so devices are well beyond the scope of this article.
Introducing the big three…
Apple HomeKit is the name given to Apple’s software framework for home controlling technology, and Siri is the audio interface which can be used to control connected devices via an iPhone or perhaps an Apple TV for example. With Google and Amazon’s home automation already centring around hands-free speaker systems, Apple has recently come up with the HomePod which does a similar job, however as with everything Apple it does attract a very hefty price tag on comparison to its rivals though the hardware might be technically superior.
Google Home is the framework name for Google’s home automation framework. One advantage of Google’s offering is that on top of controlling devices, the Google Home smart speaker can also communicate to Google Chromecast, and Google Cast enabled TVs. Further to this you can also use it to request YouTube and Netflix content, and access other aspects of the Google ecosystem such as calendars and Gmail.
In the UK in early 2018, Amazon held an astonishing 75% market share of the Smart Speaker market, though never bet against a company like Google in closing this gap, especially as their question answering technology is thought by many to be far superior. As with Google, communication with devices centres around the smart speaker of which there is a large range of options.
The Big Decision…
In an ideal world, all frameworks and devices would be easily and universally compatible, so that we could cherry-pick and make the best decision in terms of devices on a case-by-case basis. Unfortunately, to some degree you will need to pick a side, and then live with the pros and cons of that decision in the long-term. For example, some HomeKit devices will talk to Google Home, but not all, and the Google Home smart speaker (at the time of writing) cannot talk to the Apple HomeKit framework itself for example.
If your concern is purely cost and having the largest selection of devices pre-configured and ready to go, the Amazon Echo is perhaps the choice for you.
If you believe you will make use of asking questions of your Smart Hub, already use Google’s ecosystem, and believe in the longer-term they will achieve a good market share then Google Home would probably be the technology framework you go with.
As for Apple HomeKit, the amount of compatible devices is less, and in the main compatible devices as well as the Apple products to control them tend to be much more expensive, and so unless you are already well bought into Apple technology, this is less likely to be the best choice for you.
So, when making a decision it’s really all about the right decision for you, rather than there being a clear winner.