Amazon Echo vs Google Home

After researching the Amazon Echo and Google Home, I couldn’t decide which device to buy. So what should you do when you can’t decide? Just buy both of course! It’s also helpful when you plan to blog about them.

tl;dr If you plan to just buy one device, I’d go with the Echo unless you really need Chromecast support.

My initial goals were to be able to control my wireless outlets, Harmony Hub (review), ChromeCast and Pandora. I’ve been able to accomplish everything but it’s required both devices.

Amazon Echo

The Echo has more integrations than the Home because of what Amazon calls skills. Currently there are around 4271 skills. You can even create your own. Since the Echo has a Harmony skill, I’m able to control my tv with voice commands. Also the speaker is pretty amazing for such a small device.

You can also connect an external bluetooth speaker which is not possible on the home.

There are some negatives. IFTT requires you to say “trigger” before your command. e.g “Alexa trigger turn on the lamps”. Also setting up the Echo wasn’t as smooth as Home.

Overall Amazon has a good headstart on Google. The question is how long can they hold the lead?

Google Home

The two main areas where the Home excels over the Echo is the power of Google search and the ability to cast music, YouTube and Netflix to a Chromecast, which includes the ability to play/pause and skip forward/back. It’s pretty amazing to just say, “Hey Google, play ______ on the Chromecast” and it just works! Also the speaker is good but I feel the Echo is slightly better.

The main downside I’ve noticed is for the Home to communicate with other devices (besides Chromecast) is through IFTT. This is somewhat limited. For example, I can turn on/off my tv but it cannot change the channel/volume. This is quite frustrating.

Here is a guide I’ve written on controlling wireless power outlets using the Home.

 

Leave a comment below of which device you prefer and why.


Also published on Medium.

4 thoughts on “Amazon Echo vs Google Home

  1. I have both.

    I use Echo to control my Etek outlets via the gethook.io beta skill. The Hook device is actually pretty awesome. I’ve been using it for about a year now instead of a Pi. That combo (Echo/Hook) never fails.

    The Echo works great for “doing” things. It also has an amazing speaker, and the mics hear me from clear across the room even while music is playing. You can also get decent discounts on select items on Amazon while ordering through Alexa (that may be enough to pay for the device over time). Where it falls short is in its ability to answer non-specific questions.

    Google Home is also able to control my outlets, but only via IFTTT. While it does have direct integration with Google Assistant/IFTTT, Home frequently either doesn’t hear my IFTTT commands correctly, or it simply doesn’t recognize them.
    I use Google Keep all the time to manage shared lists with my wife. Home makes adding to lists super easy!
    Home can cast Netflix directly, but it’s more of a gimmick than anything else at this point. It’s much easier to search for and play what you want from another device. I also have to try repeatedly to get Netflix to play something. Where Home excels is in it’s ability to “google” the answer to just about any question.

    I think Echo’s speaker is better though, and Echo certainly has better voice recognition. The Alexa app also has a section to easily manage timers and alarms, which Home doesn’t. I use Echo as my alarm clock so this is very helpful.

    The only real downside to Echo is it’s lack of some sort of search engine support to answer questions. Otherwise, it wins in nearly every category.

    That being said, Google Home is new. They just opened the platform to developers a few weeks ago, so we can expect to see a flood of new abilities soon. I don’t know if they can do much at this point to improve the voice recognition though.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts! I wish one device could do it all. I didn’t mention it in the post but if you use any Apple product everything gets more complicated. Apple music, reminders or notes will work on either device. If Apple releases a device you may need all 3 🙁

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