Ever wake up in the middle of the night—panicked—wondering if it’s possible that you actually forgot your anniversary? Or wishing you could magically adjust the thermostat from your bed?
If so, you might want to look into purchasing a wireless speaker and voice command system for your home. Amazon’s Echo retails for $180 and has been out since 2014. Later this year, Google is releasing it’s own version—Google Home—price still unknown, to rival the Echo.
Amazon’s Echo has paved the way for the smart home system; until Google’s announcement, there has been nothing else like it on the market. While they can both preform the personal assistant like—core tasks—there are differences in the two systems that leave it open for comparison.
Both the Echo and Google Home have an “always listening” feature, meaning they respond to various voice commands 24/7. They are able to add events to your personal calendar, control the temperature in your home and stream music. They can also manage shopping and to do lists, check the status of a flight, track packages, set alarms and read the weather and news.
Amazon’s Echo has “Alexa,” as it’s trigger word, (as in, “Alexa, when is my anniversary?”) while Google Home’s trigger is the phrase, “Okay, Google” or “Hey Google.”
Aesthetically, the Echo is a tall, black cylinder with a blue ring on top that lights up when it’s working. Google Home has been said to look a bit like an air freshener; it’s rounder and white, with an interchangeable bottom that you can match to your decor. When it’s working, four dots light up on top. Google Home may have the aesthetic advantage due to the consumer love of personalizing their tech devices.
Google Home may also out do the Echo as an entertainment hub. While the Echo can stream music, Google Home has a multi-room audio feature that will command multiple devices. It can sync with other speakers in your house through Google Cast, a feature Echo lacks. Google Home can also control your TV through Google Chromecast, send a text and make a reservation.
Like the Echo, Google Home can answer basic questions. However, Google Home may have the advantage here as well. Google has more experience with voice search, personalized tasks, machine learning and language processing. The existing Google Now and OK Google voice-assistant technology are being customized and rebranded as Google Home, meaning that while the Google Home may be new to the market, the technology is not.
While Alexa handles its core tasks very well, it has catching up to do with Google-like things—search and translation, for example—and it can’t handle a series of questions in a conversational style the way Google Home can.
Though Google Home seems to beat the Echo in a few departments, Alexa is always learning new “skills,” and currently has a list of over 1,000. The Echo also has a head start in the market and is very easy to command with the right phrase. Additionally, Alexa is a fun personality with quirky extras, (like playing Bingo). Alexa is like having a smart, party guest who can order pizza or an Uber for your actual guests.
Here’s the bottom line; both Amazon’s Echo and Google Home are capable of performing—the decision between the two is personal, depending on the needs of the individual household. Echo already has a large, tried and true fan base and the power of Amazon’s vast distribution system. Google has more experience with personalization and making hardware, but the Google Home hasn’t been released yet so user reviews aren’t available.
When purchasing a smart home system, there are lots of questions—from installation and synching with other devices, to managing the core tasks and getting to know your new personal assistant. Get Integrated provides these services and more—the experienced, local technicians will setup, navigate and teach you how to use your smart speaker. Visit getintegrated.ca for appointments and more information.