Amazon Echo 2 vs. Home Pod – Free Access vs. Privacy
This fall we’re going to meet another upgrade of smart home gadgets. The online super-mall and innovating company Amazon is rolling out the next generation of their home digital assistant Echo 2.
Amazon Echo 2 is the home of Alexa – the home digital assistant. Technically, Alexa is the cousin of Siri, Google Assistant, as well as Bixby, but it actually has its own physical shell and is present in the world. If there are brick-and-mortar businesses, then there must be plastic-and-wire items as well. Though Echo 2 has only one wire – its power supply.
Echo’s closest rivals are the Home Pod and Google Home. The gadget’s family is correct to include active speakers, for they feature active mics to pick up sounds and a speaker to talk back. So, the first thing Amazon is improving in this digital home assistant, are far-field mics. The engineers are planning to install seven wide range microphones rather than a microphone and a subwoofer.
The touch screen is also expected to enhance the home assistant control options, though the Chinese analogues of such devices usually use smartphone apps.
But, being good is not enough. You should look good as well. When home assistants first arrived on the scenes, they were made to stand out as a home decoration, bringing not only attention to its glamor, but also to look like a luxury item in the home. Now, they are as common as a TV set and people want them to blend into the environment as if they always have been here. In Echo 2’s case, it means the gadget has to become smaller, sleeker and less edgy. The device will become twice as small and get a cloth like surface.
As for the software, it is still a secret. Amazon has to develop the new acoustic model, the new array of mics they want to add, as well as some more features to pitch against Home Pod.
Right now, Alexa can find info, play music and read audiobooks from Amazon libraries. It can control the smart home too, like your Philips Hue smart bulbs for example. But, a smart home is more than just smart bulbs or climate system or heating. Since every home appliance has Internet access nowadays, home assistants are to become smart home hubs. They should cover not just entertainment and security, but also comfort and privacy.
In this aspect, Home Pod will have an upper hand from the start.
Their Home Pod 2 will be completely sandboxed in Apple’s style and even more. The regulations for apps designers will be even more severe than those for iPad, iPhone and iPod. In fact, a home assistant is an active speaker that is eavesdropping 24/7/365. It is ready to pick up your order any minute and this is okay, but there are some obvious drawbacks.
The info picked up in a household can be extremely sensitive. Being connected to the internet is dangerous enough, but having your identity stolen because of it can be detrimental.
On the contrary, Amazon Echo brings in third party developers to introduce their services for families and homes. So, critical information about the household routine and habits can treacle away. What comes in return can be innocent enough(the choice of the ads you watch) but, it can also be rather threatening (credentials theft).
Apple cracks down on such an approach, and claims that their Home Pod will have no bloatware, or any other app for that matter that can leak, or sell your info to any third party. Introducing the new technologies into your home means a new responsibility for the buyer.
The responsibility on unprecedented level. When buying the digital assistant, we must trust that the company won’t turn them against us and our families, whether it is an intentional move or not.
The Home Pod would be a reasonable option if it doesn’t require an Apple ID in order to use. The Amazon Echo 2 however, would have to have any third party apps turned off first in order to make it a safe addition to your home.