When it comes to building a smart home, few steps are as important as choosing your smart home platform. Choose the wrong one, and you may have to use dozens of different 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 smart home platform?
Smart home platforms provide a centralized location to control all your smart home products. After loading the software (whether it’s 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 of their controls.
Of course, you don’t need to use a smart home platform, as most smart home products come with their own standalone applications. But if you have a lot of devices in your home, each with its own app, it can be cumbersome to flip through them all to accomplish basic tasks. With a smart home platform like Alexa or HomeKit, everything in your home can be accessed in one unified place.
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 strongest selection of HomeKit hubs, as you’ll largely be limited to the HomePod, HomePod mini, Apple TV 4K, or a standard iPad Pro.
Note that iPads are no longer supported as home hubs on newer Home architectures, meaning you’ll likely want to use an Apple TV 4K or HomePod as the brains of your operation.
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 is also making a smarter home hub for HomeKit than Apple is for Alexa, as evidenced by the newly launched Echo Pop. Meanwhile, Apple doesn’t even have a dedicated smart display for HomeKit — though that may change in the future.
the winner: Alexa
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 produces some great products for Alexa, including the Amazon Smart Thermostat, Blink Video Doorbell, and more.
Apple lags far behind Amazon in terms of the 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 a number of third-party products that work with HomeKit, including popular items from Nanoleaf, Schlage, and Ecobee. This number is expected to grow as Matter continues to introduce more products.
However, for now, it’s hard to go wrong with Amazon Alexa, as you’re guaranteed to find something that suits your needs. HomeKit isn’t a dud, but its catalog is a little smaller and generally a little more expensive than competitors.
the winner: Alexa
ease of use
Both HomeKit and Alexa are remarkably easy to use, with intuitive smartphone apps and a responsive voice assistant. Alexa works on both Android and iOS smartphones, while HomeKit is limited to iOS devices, but other than that quirk, controlling your smart home is as easy as opening an app.
the winner: tie
If you’re sticking 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.
However, Alexa is an easy recommendation for everyone. With a catalog full of top-tier products, you’ll never have a problem finding something to suit your needs and budget. Those shopping on a budget will find Alexa an incredible option, as you can buy the Echo Pop for just $40 to use as a hub (and it’s often on sale for a much lower price).
Alexa is also a great voice assistant, capable of handling any task you come across. Siri also performs voice functions, as does Alexa, but the fact that it’s limited to fewer products makes it harder to recommend HomeKit.
All told, Alexa is probably a better choice for your smart home than HomeKit. With a wide variety of products and support for both Android and iOS devices, it’s hard to go wrong with Amazon’s comprehensive platform. HomeKit comes in second place, but with fewer options and some major omissions, there’s not much reason to put it ahead of the competition.