If you’ve dreamed of voice-activated devices since your childhood, these two devices will be a dream come true. Voice-controlled assistants are very popular at the moment. From iPhone’s Siri, Google voice or Windows Cortana, this technology is advancing rapidly. However, two have recently come to prominence. In the battle between Google Home vs Amazon Echo, which one wins out?
Here’s our guide to these two devices.
Aesthetics and usability
Both Amazon Echo and Google Home are voice-controlled speakers which allow you to call orders to them without the need to use your hands. Both companies have opted for a tall, rounded design. The Echo is more bolts and braces in aesthetics with Google’s home more shapely and curved.
Amazon Echo is a sleek, cylindrical form with a single LED ring light at the top. This device comes in both black (the author’s personal favorite) and white but no room for customization.
Google Home is somewhat fancier, however. It has a curved shape, reminiscent of a wine glass, which is apparently the inspiration. It’s also smaller that Amazon Echo. The base can be swapped for 6 different shells to match your home decor, which comes in fabric or metal forms. The top is sloped with four LEDs to let you know it’s working. Overall, Google Home is a pretty device with nice touches like its sloped top.
The Echo’s controls are mechanical with a physical dial for volume and buttons for mute and activation. Googles Home uses a capacitive touch control panel but does have a physical mute button at the rear.
Both have the far-field technology, which will allow the device to detect your voice from across a room or down the hall.
So visually the better device is “in the eye of the beholder.” However, the customization ability of Google Home is certainly advantageous. The same can be said for the controls with personal preference driving your decision.
Voice Assistant Capabilities
Amazon Echo incorporates the Alexa digital assistant. Google Home comes with the not-so-creatively named Google Assistant. Alexa is renowned for her database of poor jokes and nerdy references which are a nice touch.
Alexa can understand simple commands, even a series of them, but they are fairly basic. Echo’s standard search engine is Bing.
Unsurprisingly, Google Home uses Google’s mature search engine, which is a clear advantage. This integration means that Google Assistant has little need for a wealth of information as it’s built straight into Google’s architecture. Google Home can convert your shopping list into a digital list for your smartphone later on.
Google Assistant also benefits from Google’s two-way natural language processing algorithm. This allows Assistant to be context-aware enabling a more natural and less awkward list of commands.
By way of example, Google give the following example – “What is Adele’s real name,” followed by, “How many Grammy’s has she won?” Assistant is able to determine the context of “she” within the list of commands.
Verdict? Google Home’s integration with Google Architecture is a clear advantage over Echo. From a functional perspective is the clear winner. The ability to have a conversation with the device is, for most users, secondary to this. It is always fun to “troll” your device but this soon losses it’s appeal when the “conversation” becomes stifled, which probably means Echo is the better device for the later.
Ultimately they are both speakers and will be able to play music etc. Echo can stream from Amazon Prime Music while Google Home will play music from Play Music and Google Cast. Both Echo and Home feature Spotify and TuneIn radio, but Google can also offer Pandora.
Amazon Echo cannot currently support multi-room audio, Google Home can. Google’s ambition is for you to have several units dotted around the home. This will allow you to play music in different rooms whilst being “smart” enough that only the nearest device responds to your commands – nice.
Google Home also allows you to “cast” videos to any compatible TV. Command Home what you want to watch and it appears on your screen, just like from a smartphone. This functionality is limited to YouTube at present but Netflix is soon to follow.
Other than media, both devices work with Nest, Phillips Hue, and Samsung SmartThings. Echo can handle Hive and Google has IFTTT. So you’ll be able to impress guests with your Jedi powers to simultaneously control your lights, summon music and open videos on command.
Verdict? Little difference between the two here. To take advantage of the multi-room capability of Google Home will involve a significant cost in buying the additional devices so the benefits may outweigh the costs.
[Image Source: Pixabay]
The bottom line – Price
All of the above aside the ultimate determiner for you is probably price.
Amazon Echo currently costs $179.00. Google Home is slightly cheaper coming in at $129.00. Amazon does also offer the Dot – a smaller, lower quality speaker version of Echo that costs around $40. From time to time both Google and Amazon do offer discounts so keep a ready eye on the market to pick up some bargains.
Both Amazon and Google are set to dominate this market for some time until a viable competitor enters the fray. Apple is rumored to be developing just such a rival. This device, no name as yet, reportedly has finished its R & D phase with a prototype in development at Apple HQ. It’s expected to use Apple’s Siri assistant and is likely to integrate third-party smart home gadgets.
There are other alternatives to these two devices either on the market or soon to be deployed. Whether you’re looking for a smart home controller, a voice-activated personal assistant, or just a smart wireless speaker, you can find some great options here.