Signature Apple Flair
Apple's HomePod is a compact smart speaker that has amazing sound. The microphones are super responsive — even with the volume turned up — but the HomePod can only use Apple's HomeKit and stream directly from Apple Music.
- Amazing sound quality
- Compact design
- Simple setup process
- HomeKit and Apple Music only
Smart and versatile
With its combination of great sound, smart home features, and built-in Google Assistant, The Google Home Max has a lot to offer. However, the multi-room audio can be tricky to set up, and the bulkier design doesn't look as sleek as it could.
- Google Assistant and smart home controls built-in
- Multiple streaming services
- AUX port for wired audio
- Heavy and bulky design
- Multi-room audio is a bit tricky
Apple set out to build a speaker that truly sounds amazing and is as easy to set up, use, and integrate into its existing product line, and the HomePod accomplishes all that in spades. Meanwhile, the Google Home Max takes all the smarts of the Google Assistant and takes it to the next level, making it an easy fit into almost any smart home setup.
The important specs
The HomePod and Google Home Max are both capable, powerful smart speakers that'll cost you a pretty penny (the Google Home Max costs $100 more). Besides the price, both take slightly different approaches to what a smart speaker should be, and thus, the final products differ in some significant ways.
Apple's superior sound quality and ability to play more types of audio files will leave audiophiles very happy. Not to mention, its more compact design blends into most home decor with ease. As with most Apple Products though, the HomePod is limited to working within the Apple ecosystem. It only works with Siri as its smart assistant, and if you want to listen to music, it only has Apple Music built-in (although you can listen to other services if you stream them through AirPlay).
The Google Home Max is a powerhouse when it comes to smart features, because of how smart Google Assistant is and all the third-party support that Google allows. It's more flexible than the HomePod, for households who aren't entirely bought into the Apple lifestyle. You can also listen to multiple services easily, including Google Play Music, Spotify, and more.
|Header Cell - Column 0||HomePod||Google Home Max|
|Weight||5.51 lbs||11.68 lbs|
|Height||6.8 inches||7.5 inches|
|Virtual assistant||Siri||Google Assistant|
|Audio Formats||AAC, AIFF, Apple Lossless, MP3, WAV, FLAC, HE-ACC||OPUS, Vorbis, WAV, FLAC, HE-AAC, LC-AAC+, MP3,|
|Streaming Services||Apple Music||Google Play Music, Pandora, Spotify, TuneIn, YouTube Music, iHeartRadio|
Whether you decided to pick up the HomePod or Google Home Max, you're going to end up with a great smart speaker that will fill your home with music and make your life easier with built-in assistants. It really comes down to what you want out of a smart speaker and which services you already use.
Likely, if you have other Apple products, you're fine with Apple's walled garden approach to its ecosystem, and you won't mind the fact that you can only stream music from Apple Music, and that HomePod will only show up in HomeKit. It's important to mention that the HomePod also has much better sound quality, so if the most important thing to you is sound, HomePod is likely the way to go.
Of course, you the HomePod can't quite compare to the versatility that the Google Home Max brings to the table. You'll be able to stream music with more services and devices than its Apple counterpart, and Google Assistant (as of right now) can do more for you than Siri can, especially if you already have some Google-enabled smart home products, like Belkin or Nest. While the sound is great, it doesn't hold a candle to the HomePod.
These are both great smart speakers for what they do. However, HomePod sounds just a little bit better and Google Home Max works with more services and devices.
Apple elegance with amazing sound to boot!
The HomePod is an excellent smart speaker that allows you to control your life and home as long as you stay within the confines of Apple's ecosystem.
Google's versatility can't be beaten
With more streaming services, more ways to play your music, and more control over more devices, the Google Home Max fits right in almost any smart home; however, it does lack the sound quality and elegance you'd expect from a speaker this size.
Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way.
Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.