It is believed that the success of Amazon’s smart speaker/voice controlled home assistant over the last few years is what encouraged Google at their recent event to announce the introduction of Google Home – their take on the smart speaker. Google Home is being placed as the high contender against the Amazon Echo. The two speakers while sharing many similarities, have some very noticeable differences both technically and aesthetically. If you want to buy yourself a smart speaker, it may strike you as confusing, to know which one is best for you.
The two speakers, to your average joe are very similar. Both Amazon Echo and Google Home speakers issue voice commands to carry out an array of tasks, including music playback, controlling home smart devices and giving general information to the people in your home. The devices are placed in central rooms within the house, always listening, ready to take commands issued by the user.
So what is it that compels us to make the ultimate decision? voice activated assistant are the world’s next steps into the future and 2017 hopes to see the rise of them – with one in almost every home. So if you’re unsure of which to choose, then take a look below and see what each device has to offer
The backbone of all the differences between the two devices is the software that powers them. Amazon Echo utilises Alexa – amazon’s own version of a digital assistant. It may look quite imposing upon first glances but the matte black or white device actually blends quite well into most environments. The cylindrical Amazon Echo offers a comparable 360-degree audio experience. The speaker grille which is housed on the lower half of the device offers a neat design contrast.
Users have to first say “Alexa” to wake the device and get it to recognise that you are in effect talking to it and not someone else in the room. With 7 microphones and beam forming technology Alexa can hear you from across the room even in a noisy environment. Amazon have worked hard to ensure that the Amazon Echo receives automatic updates so it is always at the top of its game. Amazon has also used specialist technology to assist Alexa in adapting to speech patterns, accents, individual vocabulary and personal preferences with in your speech. Strangely, this is in fact quite humanising, making you aware that you have Alexa’s attention.
Users will be able to manage the settings of the speaker and the virtual assistant through an Alexa app, which is where you can browse and enable the “skills”. Alexa’s skills are in a sense apps that you can merge with your Amazon Echo, so you can take all your favourite apps and control them with your voice. Amazon has over 3000 skills available for Alexa most of which are developed by third party companies, thus allowing users to request an Uber or order food from Just Eat.
Alexa can play all your favourite songs and playlists on request by just asking for a song, artist, genre or mood, provided by Amazon music with up to 40 million songs available with Amazon Music Unlimited. If you already have all your playlist set however, that’s not problem as Alexa also works alongside music providers such as Spotify and TuneIn – the device is also bluetooth enabled so you can stream music from Itunes etc, straight from your smartphone or tablet.
Alexa is also able to provide you with information when requested, from asking for a run down on all the latest news and sports scores to what the weather is forecast to be like today and much more. Simply just wake Alexa and ask what you’d like to know.
One of the features that really sets the Amazon Echo aside from Google Home is Alexa’s ability to re-order previous items from Amazon prime by just a simple command. This unique and time saving action means you can order items from your order history that are prime eligible, any items in the Amazon’s Choice section and any items that are prime eligible.
The Amazon Echo works in partnership with all your smart devices in the home such as WeMo, Philips Hue and Hive using commands such as “Alexa turn the lamp off” or “Alexa make the master bedroom heating turn on to 20 degrees”. The perfect solution to put an end to all the arguments of who has to get up and find the remote. Alexa can turn off/on any smart device connected, change brightness settings on any compatible lighting fixtures in the home, control the home thermostat, change the speeds on compatible fans and change/turn on a particular channel or activity on the television.
Powered by Amazon’s success of the Amazon Echo and the sister products that have since become available, Google Home was launched early October 2016.
Google Home is a shorter speaker, every minimalists dream. While only available in white, Google have provided an array of different coloured and styled bases to complement every decor designs, including both fabric and metal bases to choose from. The top of Home, slopes at an angle and hides a touch-sensitive panel that you can swipe gestures upon to change volume, play and pause music, and activate Assistant’s listening mode.
Google Home utilises Assistant, which was first seen in the Google Allo messaging that was realised a couple of months ago. To use the Google Home, much like the Amazon Echo, users must first “wake” the device by saying “OK Google” or “Hey Google” before issuing a command. However one of the biggest advantages that Google Home possesses is that Google holds much more information on users from their Google accounts and apps, meaning that Google Home can perform functions such as telling users what is on their calendar for the day or how long the commute to work will take due to traffic or if there is an alternative route for them to take.
Of course as you can imagine Google’s search capabilities will also be in the spotlight, users can ask for the answers to general questions or ask for unspecific request such as “Hey Google, play that Celine Dion song from the Titanic film” and it should be able to use that information to recognise exactly what it is you’re asking it to do. Google has also enabled the device to recognise follow-on questions, meaning if you ask “Who is the president of the USA” once answered you can follow up with “How old is he?” and Google will recognise what it is that you mean.
Unlike Amazon Echo users with Google Home can access music from Google Play and Youtube, they can send information to their smartphone and also stream content to their TV’s through their Chromecast.
Google Home as well as checking your calendar and routes, can also retrieve any flight or train times you have. It can also set alarms and timers on your phone for you – avoiding any forgetfulness before bed.
As with the Amazon Echo the Google Home device works alongside your smart home devices, powered by Nest and Philips Hue, to allow you to control your home devices by a voice command.
Which one would you choose? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.