When Amazon launched the Echo a little over two years ago, it introduced a simple but effective home automation device to a mainstream audience. Now, Google has provided an alternative with the Home, its answer to Amazon’s home automation speaker. Choosing between Google Home vs Amazon Echo can be challenging for first-time buyers. After going through their various strengths and weaknesses, however, the choice might be easier to make.
Music – quality, setup, and library
Since both the Amazon Echo and Google Home are speakers, music represents a significant part of their usage. While neither of them is as good as a dedicated sound system, Amazon Echo definitely comes out on top based on audio quality, particularly in higher volumes.
With that said, things do get a bit more complicated once you start digging into it. While the full-sized devices do not support external speakers, the tiny Echo Dot does, both through an auxiliary port and via Bluetooth. With Google Home, however, users can also link their Chromecast Audio speakers which might work better for some.
Though the Echo might have the advantage as a standalone speaker, the Home is a clear winner in the library section. Both services can offer most popular songs but Google Play Music is a far superior service than Prime Music with 30 million songs against 2 million. Moreover, Google also offers YouTube integration. These two elements are extremely important due to another reason, the AI, which we will talk about in the next section.
The virtual assistants
When Amazon introduced Alexa, many saw a new competitor to existing services, including Google Assistant. If I had to describe Alexa’s adequacy as simply as possible, I would say it’s a “decent enough” AI. It can tell some jokes and answer some basic questions, but its biggest strength is how well it integrates with other home automation systems.
Amazon has been in this game far longer than Google. It has created some robust partnerships and setting other services up with Alexa and Echo is usually an intuitive process. Commanding Alexa to turn your lights on is easy, responsive, and works great almost all the time.
To add more functionality to an Echo, all you have to do is add an Alexa Skill. These act as add-ons which provide a ton of different services including getting rides with Uber and Lyft, acquiring more detailed weather reports, and more.
Even so, there is no denying that Google Assistant is far superior when it comes to answering more complex queries and commands. Where Alexa simply picks up on keywords to give you answers, Google Assistant’s algorithm for processing natural language is much more impressive.
For example, asking it who directed Braveheart will quickly provide you with the correct answer of Mel Gibson. Then, you can simply ask how old he is, without repeating the name, and the assistant will understand what you mean.
Though Google usually plays well with others, that has not been the case thus far with the Home. The company is still trying to find its bearings and its partnerships are limited to a select few companies.
This is where Amazon shines. The company’s vision was partially revealed during this year’s CES. It was revealed that Alexa was now going to be available in dozens of different devices including other speakers, refrigerators, and TVs.
Amazon obviously wants the Echo and Alexa to be central in any home automation system. It has created partnerships with a huge list of companies and has managed to integrate its services exceptionally well.
This will most likely be a minor point for most people. However, it is worth pointing out that the two devices look much different. Amazon has opted for a sturdier all-black or all-white design that looks imposing.
On the other hand, Google Home is a more elegant device. Its curvy design is complimented by a touchpad at the top with LED lights to indicate its power status. Furthermore, its base can be swapped out to compliment other elements in your home.
So far, we have looked at some of the most obvious things a person might ask for when comparing Google Home vs Amazon Echo. What I have often come to understand in tech, however, is that small points are often more important than the larger picture.
With that in mind, try to have a clear idea of why you want to buy a device like the Echo or the Home. Do you want to be able to have almost-natural conversations with a digital assistant and being able to receive answers for almost any query? Then the Home is most likely what you are looking for.
Do you want to create a smart home with a varied selection of services that all integrate perfectly with each other? Then Amazon will certainly win you over with many exciting things to come in 2017.
Finally, are you invested in either company’s services? If you already subscribe to Google Music, then Google Home will be a fantastic way of accessing your library and listening to new music. Are you an Amazon Prime subscriber? Then you can get unlimited free music, a selection of audiobooks, and other services without spending an extra penny with Amazon Echo.