Google Home vs Amazon Echo
Google Home, the search giant’s voice-activated “smart speaker,” began shipping November 4, 2016. It competes head to head with Amazon Echo, which debuted almost exactly two years earlier. Other “digital assistants” are awaiting their incarnations as speakers or other objects; Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and an unnamed AI service that Samsung plans to bake into its Galaxy 8 smartphone. But for now, let’s see how Google Home and Amazon Echo compare…
Google and Amazon Competing For Your Voice Commands
A digital assistant must answer its master’s questions. Google Home has an advantage over Amazon Echo there because the former can tap Google’s unimaginably huge and sophisticated knowledge base. Want to know what movies Bill Murray stars in? How to build a bee trap? Is Pluto a planet? Google Home has answers (and knows you don’t mean the Disney dog), but Amazon Echo does not.
Overall, Home is better educated than Echo. But how often do you need to know how to make a bee trap? More common and repetitive tasks, such as adding and retrieving items in calendars and to-do lists, are well within the abilities of both digital assistants. Echo even supports Google Calendar.
Google Home responds to the spoken phrase, “OK, Google. Good morning,” with a briefing that includes your calendar, your commute time forecast, the weather report, and a news snapshot. With Echo, you need to request each of those items separately.
Controlling entertainment is another key function. Here again, you won’t find much practical difference between the two devices. Google Home supports Google Play Music, YouTube Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and others. Amazon Echo supports Amazon Prime Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and others. You won’t run out of music with either choice.
But Echo lacks any output to sound systems, while Home can stream music to Chromecast. Indeed, Home can sync audio playback to multiple devices via Chromecast, so your music can follow you through rooms or out to your car.
Google Home with Chromecast has the built-in ability to manage Netflix and YouTube, plus project photos from your Android phone onto your TV screen. The same cannot be done on Amazon Echo without cobbling together “skills” using Chromecast and IFTTT, a third-party "if this, then that" service that does something if some action occurs, or criteria is met. And well, the point of a digital assistant is that it assists you, rather than you assisting it. Point for Google.
Home Automation is a Key Feature
Home automation is another big function of a digital assistant. Amazon Echo partners with home automation systems and products made by Nest, Ecobee, SmartThings, Wink, Insteon, Belkin WeMo, Philips Hue, Lifx, and others. Google Home supports Nest, SmartThings, and Philips Hue. Both devices can be spliced to other home automation products using IFTTT, if you have the time and inclination.
Amazon Echo looks like a light-saber in the "off" position, and has an API that has allowed developers to create over 900 “skills,” or additional tasks, that Echo can do upon verbal command. Google Home is fresh out of the starting gate, but it too will see a substantial ecosystem of third-party apps.
Google Home is priced at $129, while Amazon Echo costs $180. (While supplies last, you can get a refurbished Echo for $119.99) That’s not a big enough difference to matter when talking about all the functions that both devices can perform.
In the long run, I expect Google Home to overtake Amazon Echo in capabilities and market share. And that's not just because it looks like an air freshener. Google has a very broad portfolio of services that people use regularly, all of which can help make Google Home more useful.
Will Home find a home as a digital assistant in your home? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 9 Nov 2016
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Google Home vs Amazon Echo (Posted: 9 Nov 2016)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved