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Who wins in the battle between Google Home vs Amazon Echo?
Let’s find out…
Life without a smartphone is unimaginable for many of us. Being more connected makes life easier and more entertaining, giving us instant access to emails, phone calls, social media, music and video, news and weather reports, plus all the services, information and wonderful craziness that the world wide web has to offer.
But connectivity doesn’t stop at smartphones.
Our desire for connectivity has opened up a whole new way of life — the smart home.
A smart home is a home that is equipped with network-connected products — AKA smart products — usually connected via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth which control automating and optimizing functions such as temperature, lighting, security, safety and entertainment, either remotely by a phone or tablet, or a separate dedicated smart system within the home itself.
The two dominant smart home systems that have taken the world by storm are Google Home and Amazon Echo.
But which is the best smart home system for you?
Read on to find out how they can transform the way you live for the better…
What is Google Home?
Google Home is a super intelligent voice activated Wi-Fi connected speaker that also acts as a smart home control centre and personal assistant.
Naturally, being a speaker it can play your favorite tunes and other entertainment on request (as well as answering questions, giving you the latest news, and managing everyday tasks) but the Google Assistant AI also acts as a hub to control other smart devices within your home.
Google Home Products
There are 3 main Google Home products available.
The original Google Home, Google Home Mini, and the newest smart speaker in the range — the Google Home Max.
Let’s start off with the original Google Home.
The speaker itself is a beaut, and the base is available in a range of different colors and finishes to choose from to suit your decor.
The elegant design is clean and subtle with only one button to enable or disable the microphone.
The speaker itself is housed in the base of the device, and the top of the Google Home speaker is an LED touchscreen from where you can interact manually with Google Home and Google Assistant, plus adjust various settings such as the volume level.
The hi-tech mic picks up on your voice with ease, enabling you to use voice commands to control to smart tech in your home such as Nest thermostats, Philips Hue light bulbs and Samsung’s SmartThings platform, as well as interacting with Google Assistant’s crazily huge Knowledge Graph — a system that contains millions of facts about people, places, and things, and works out how all of these things are connected.
Google Home Mini is pretty much what you would expect — a smaller version of the Google Home speaker.
It has the same Google Assistant functionality, but with an appealing small, round appearance and a 360 degree speaker.
On its own the sound quality isn’t anything special, but when partnered up with Google Home the overall audio quality improves.
Lastly, the Google Home Max is the biggest smart speaker of the bunch, kicking out powerful and impressive audio from its large yet discretely designed frame.
The Google Home Max works in the same way as the other Google Home products and can be activated either by voice or by using your iPhone, Android device or tablet.
If you want to watch TV using Google Home, you can do so thanks to Google Chromecast.
This handy little device hooks up to your TV via the HDMI port and then connects to the Google Home smartphone app to stream data straight to your screen.
What is Amazon Echo?
The first smart ecosystem to go into production, Amazon Echo shares a lot of similar features to Google Home including a voice controlled assistant (Alexa) to help manage every day tasks and compatible smart home devices such as lights, timers, heating systems, and TVs.
These smart wireless speakers can play music, answer questions, help you shop online, give you news and updates, search the web, play games and much more — and all without having to activate an app on your smartphone.
All Echo devices feature several sensitive microphones which are capable of excellent voice recognition – even from across the other side of a room.
Adding Alexa ‘skills’ (apps, essentially) to your Echo system opens up endless new skills for the device.
Amazon Echo Products
There are a wide range of different devices currently available in the Amazon Echo family, and all offer the same set of basic functions, but with significant differences.
The original Amazon Echo speaker (2nd Generation) features a tall cylindrical design with 360 degree sound dispersion and a choice of different contemporary finishes.
Its limitations are that it can’t be paired with another speaker, and though while decent, the sound quality isn’t of superior quality.
The Echo 2’s smaller sibling — the Echo Dot — is a small flat cylindrical speaker a bit like a hockey puck.
The speaker in this unit is tiny, and not really suitable for listening to music at any volume.
Where the Echo Dot comes into its own is an an inexpensive extension to Echo’s smart features, hooking up to the smart system and bringing Alexa into other rooms in the home.
Amazon Echo Tap is another speaker in the Echo range. It’s totally wireless and is capable of streaming music for up to 9 hours without needing recharging.
Amazon Echo Plus is the more advanced version of the Echo 2, with a similar shape and size but much improved sound quality, and much better capability as a smart home controller as it doesn’t require a separate hub to operate owing to the inclusion of Zigbee smart software.
But Echo devices don’t just stop at speakers — they have also stepped out into the visual world.
Amazon Echo Show is a touchscreen device with all the capabilities of the original Echo, but enhanced by an integral display to provide additional visual interaction. With Echo Show you can make video calls, see weather reports, read song lyrics and more all just by asking Alexa.
Another, much more simple visual device is the Amazon Echo Spot — kind of a cross between the Echo Dot and the Echo Show which acts like a small yet fancy alarm clock with which you can take video calls, use basic Alexa functions and more.
Lastly, Echo Connect is a small rectangular device that turns your regular land line into a hands free phone. It syncs up with your smartphone to access your contacts and will let you know who is calling, as well as enabling you to make landline calls from across the room just by telling Alexa who you want to call.
Google Home vs Amazon Echo
Google Home Pros
- Elegant, customizable design
- Works well as a smart home hub
- Great for sourcing music on YouTube
- Intuitive and easy to use
- Outstanding question response and music search capability
- Can distinguish between different voices to allow for multiple profiles
- Includes both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity
- Allows for music streaming to additional speakers using Google Chromecast Audio
- Features both manual and voice controls
- Now compatible with 5,000 smart home devices (and more to come!)
Google Home Cons
- Doesn’t work well with some Google services such as gmail and text messaging
- Speakers could be better quality for playing music
- Third party apps are a little limited
Amazon Echo Pros
- Always evolving with new skills being made available all the time
- Wide range of compatible smart home devices and accessories
- Alexa can be linked up to a screen (Amazon Echo Show)
- Wide range of Amazon Echo products to choose from
- Very intuitive to use
- Lots of third party apps available
- Great integration with Amazon sites
- Strong Wi-Fi connection
- Alexa constantly learns and improves to adapt to the way you live
- Good far field voice recognition
Amazon Echo Cons
- Conversations are currently a little limited and questions require the correct structuring
- Audio quality is a little lacking
Both Google Home and Amazon Echo have come on in leaps and bounds since their release, and both are excellent smart home speaker systems.
That said, there are some clear differences between the two, and choosing which one if better suited to you comes down to what you want to get out of the smart system.
For example Amazon Echo offers way more in terms of apps, has a larger product range, is more compatible with a wider selection of smart home devices, and is one heck of an online shopper.
Echo may be the better choice for families with teenagers and younger children as it has a bigger entertainment factor.
However in terms of general speaker quality Google Home comes out on top, so if listening to audio is your priority you’d be better suited to Google.
It also offers a cleverer AI than Amazon Alexa, being much better at answering free form questions, following up on related information, offering two way conversation and making a better virtual assistant.
Which smart home system do you think wins the battle of Google Home vs Amazon Echo?