Apple HomeKit: HomeKit is the most restrictive of the three, but it’s still the best option for iPhone owners. Apple’s tighter control over third-party certification ensures smooth operation for supported devices. You won’t find as many HomeKit-supported devices as with Alexa or Google Assistant, but the major smart-home brands are covered. Apple’s Home app is elegant and easy to use, devices are easy to set up, and its platform is the most secure. Apple collects less data by default, and data is kept on the device whenever possible. If you want to control devices when you’re away from home, you need a HomeKit hub device, such as a HomePod Mini, Apple TV, or iPad. Siri is also the weakest of the three voice assistants, though it’s getting better.
Google, Amazon, and even Apple, to a lesser degree, collect data on your usage habits. That includes voice recordings of your interactions with their assistants. These are reviewed by humans for accuracy, but backlash over transparency has led to better ways for you to control exactly how your data is handled. We have several guides on how you can keep your recordings private with all three of these platforms, how to delete stored voice recordings and activity, and how to make these smart speakers and smart displays as private as possible.
You’ll Want a Hub
You can control all your smart-home gadgets with your smartphone, whether it’s by talking to a respective assistant or using an app. However, we recommend having a mix of smart speakers and smart displays throughout the home so your assistant can always hear you (you won’t need to shout commands too loudly). These are our favorite smart speakers and smart displays. The latter are more versatile, as they offer simple touch controls anyone can use. It’s important to consider other people you live with and guests who may be unfamiliar with smart-home setups.