Apple HomePod white and black

Apple’s latest major product is now available to purchase: It’s called HomePod, and it’s unlike anything Apple has done before.

It’s a speaker, yes, but it’s also a home assistant powered by Siri. It’s Apple’s equivalent of the Amazon Echo or the Google Home — but mixed with a bit of the Sonos home speaker concept.

Apple CEO Tim Cook says HomePod, which ships February 9, is Apple’s attempt to “reinvent home music.” But what makes it different from the competition? And at $350, why would someone spend the extra money for HomePod?

Here are the best answers we’ve found:

SEE ALSO: Apple’s new HomePod sounds way better than the Amazon Echo

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If you’re familiar with Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home, you’re familiar with the HomePod.

In other words, “HomePod is a combination speaker/microphone that both plays music and responds to your voice requests.”

—In the case of Amazon Echo, a digital voice assistant named Alexa powers the experience.

—In the case of Google Home, a digital voice assistant named Google Assistant powers the experience.

—In the case of Apple’s HomePod, Siri powers the experience.

Siri can play music, tell you the weather, and even command various connected devices in your home.

What makes HomePod different from the competition? In short: Apple stuff.

Are you an Apple Music subscriber? HomePod is probably perfect for you. And that’s because Apple’s subscription music service doesn’t really work with Amazon Echo or Google Home.

Sure, you could connect to the Echo or the Home as Bluetooth devices, but that stinks. You want to be able to speak with these devices and for them to play music that you requested. If you want to do that with Apple Music, HomePod is your only real choice.

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