Choosing the Best Smart Home Platform: Alexa vs. HomeKit

Cupertino, December 7, 2023

Smart Home Platform Comparison

When it comes to building a smart home, few steps are as important as choosing your smart home platform.

If you choose the wrong one, you could end up using dozens of separate smartphone apps to control all your gadgets. Apple HomeKit and Amazon Alexa are two of the best options available right now, but which 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 provide a central place to control all your smart home products. Once you load the software (whether it's on your phone or a hub device), you'll see a list of everything in your smart home and easily access all the controls. Of course, you don't necessarily have to use a smart home platform, as most smart home products have their own standalone applications. But if you have a ton of gadgets at home, each with their own app, it can be difficult to navigate through them all to perform basic tasks. With a smart home platform like Alexa or HomeKit, everything in your home can be accessed in one central location.

Hub devices

Hub devices are the center of most smart homes, with both smart speakers and smart displays letting you control the rest of your setup. However, Apple doesn't have the most robust selection of HomeKit hubs, as you'll be largely limited to the HomePod, HomePod mini, Apple TV 4K, or a standard iPad Pro. Keep in mind that iPads are no longer supported as a home hub in the new Home architecture, meaning you'll probably want to use an Apple TV 4K or a HomePod as the brains of your operations. Amazon Alexa, meanwhile, works with the entire Echo range (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 appears to be getting smarter too. home hubs for Alexa than Apple for HomeKit, as evidenced by the recently launched Echo Pop. Apple, meanwhile, doesn't even have a dedicated smart display for HomeKit, although that could change in the future.

Winner: Alexa

Compatible Devices

Amazon Alexa is undoubtedly supported by more products than HomeKit. From video doorbells and smart thermostats to smart speakers and robot vacuum cleaners, it's hard to find a product that doesn't work with Amazon's smart home platform. Amazon itself produces some of the best products for Alexa, including the Amazon Smart Thermostat, Blink Video Doorbell, and more. Apple lags far behind Amazon when it comes to the sheer number of compatible products, but its smaller offering is arguably of comparable 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 rise further as Matter continues to roll out to more products. For now, though, it's hard to go wrong with Amazon Alexa, as you're almost guaranteed to find something to suit your needs. HomeKit is no slouch, but its catalog is slightly smaller and generally slightly more expensive than the competition.

Winner: Alexa

Ease of Use

With intuitive smartphone apps and responsive voice assistants, both HomeKit and Alexa are remarkably easy to use. Alexa works on both Android and iOS smartphones, while HomeKit is limited to iOS devices, but aside from this quirk, controlling your smart home is as easy as opening an app.

Winner: Tie

Final Recommendation

If you're glued to the iOS ecosystem and don't mind having a smaller range of products to choose from, there's nothing inherently wrong with HomeKit. It is 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 packed with top products, you'll never have trouble finding something to suit your needs and budget. Shoppers on a budget will find Alexa to be an incredible option, as you can buy the Echo Pop for just $40 to use as a hub (and it often retails for much less). Alexa is also a great voice assistant, capable of handling any task that comes your way. Siri handles voice tasks just as well as Alexa, but the fact that it's limited to fewer products makes HomeKit harder to recommend. All in all, 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 major omissions there's not really a reason to choose it over the competition.

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