When it comes to building a smart home, few steps are as important as choosing your smart home platform. Pick the wrong one, and you could be left using dozens of separate smartphone apps to control all your gadgets.
Apple HomeKit and Amazon Alexa are two of the best options available today — but which one is better for you? Here’s a comparison of the two platforms to help you decide.
What is a smart home platform?
Smart home platforms offer a centralized place to control all your smart home products. After loading up the software (whether it be on your phone or a hub device), you’ll be able to see a list of everything in your smart home and have easy access to all their controls.
Of course, you don’t necessarily need to use a smart home platform, as most smart home products come with their own standalone applications. But if you have tons of gizmos sitting around your house,, each with their own app, it can be cumbersome to flip through all of them to carry out basic tasks. With a smart home platform such as Alexa or HomeKit, everything in your home can be accessed in one unified location.
Hub devices are the center of most smart homes, with both smart speakers and smart displays giving you ways to control the rest of your setup. However, Apple doesn’t have the most robust selection of HomeKit hubs, as you’ll largely be limited to the HomePod, HomePod mini, Apple TV 4K, or a standard iPad Pro.
Amazon Alexa, meanwhile, works with the entire Echo lineup (which includes a variety of smart displays and smart speakers), as well as third-party products like the Sonos One or Bose Home Speaker 500. Amazon also seems to be churning out more smart home hubs for Alexa than Apple is for HomeKit, as evidenced by the recent reveal of the Echo Pop. Apple, meanwhile, doesn’t even have a dedicated smart display for HomeKit — although that could be changing in the future.
Without a doubt, Amazon Alexa is supported by more products than HomeKit. From video doorbells and smart thermostats to smart speakers and robot vacuums, it’s hard to find a product that doesn’t work with Amazon’s smart home platform. Amazon itself churns out some of the best products for Alexa, including the Amazon Smart Thermostat, Blink Video Doorbell, and more.
Apple falls far behind Amazon in terms of sheer number of compatible products, but its smaller pool is arguably of similar quality. So while you won’t have dozens of smart speakers to choose from, having HomePod and HomePod mini support with HomeKit is a big win. There are also plenty of third-party products that work with HomeKit, including popular items from Nanoleaf, Schlage, and Ecobee. Expect to see this number balloon further as Matter continues to roll out to more products.
For now, however, it’s hard to go wrong with Amazon Alexa, as you’re all but guaranteed to find something that fits your needs. HomeKit is no slouch, but it’s catalog is a bit smaller and typically a bit more expensive than the competition.
Ease of use
With intuitive smartphone apps and responsive voice assistants, both HomeKit and Alexa are remarkably easy to use. Alexa works across both Android and iOS smartphones, while HomeKit is limited to iOS devices, but aside from that quirk, controlling your smart home is as simple as opening an app.
If you’re glued to the iOS ecosystem and don’t mind a smaller pool of products to choose from, there’s nothing inherently wrong with HomeKit. It’s functional, easy to use, and supports more than enough products to build a robust smart home.
Alexa, however, is an easy recommendation for everyone. With a catalog that’s bursting with top-tier products, you’ll never have a problem finding something that fits your needs and budget. Alexa is also a great voice assistant, capable of tackling any task you throw its way.
All told, Alexa is probably a better choice for your smart home than HomeKit. With a wider variety of products and support for both Android and iOS devices, it’s hard to go wrong with Amazon’s comprehensive platform. HomeKit is a close second, but with fewer options and some big omissions, there’s not much of a reason to pick it over the competition.