Technically, we can consider a speaker as smart if it is capable of doing things more than just emitting sounds. Smart speakers tend to be single-unit wireless speakers (or a sound-bar) and have artificial intelligence (AI).
These come in the form of voice-controlled personal assistants, with the most popular being Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Google Assistant.
You can ask your smart speaker to play a song or playlist. You can ask it to set a timer while baking. You can ask for the weather report, check the traffic, book Uber, tell it to create a to-do list or get it to tell you a joke.
In the current market, Google Home and Amazon Echo are the biggest competitors.
Google Home vs. Amazon Echo
Google home and Amazon Echo are there in our houses and we spent a lot of time asking foolish questions, listening music and asking them for the news.
Amazon Echo vs Google Home: a head-to-head comparison
In terms of design, both smart speakers are different. Amazon echo looks like some industrial thing while Google home is more rounded and locks like a light lamp or a room freshener.
The latest Amazon Echo is much better looking than its predecessor. It is about six inches high cylinder shaped with several removable fabric and wood covers. The top of the Echo has a volume ring that lights up whenever Alexa is activated. It has two buttons: one turns the microphone off, and a multipurpose Action button. The multi-function button on the Echo can be used to bring up Alexa without saying anything.
The Google Home has a very minimalist and simple design. The Google Home measures 5.6 inches tall and 3.8 inches around. It comes in white, with swappable fabric and metal bases in seven colors. Google says that candles and wine glasses inspired them for the design of Google Home. It has a touch interface; you can use it to play and pause music, change volume and activate Google Assistant. It also has a physical button on its back to disable the microphone. It has four colored LEDs on its top, which glows when Home is listening to you or microphone is activated. Google Home can be silenced by tapping the touch panel once.
Overall, Amazon Echo seems to be trendier with its swappable fibers but google home seems to be best suited due to its round shaped design.
Google Assistant and Alexa are the voice assistant that Google Home and Echo uses respectively, to perform different tasks. Alexa supports slightly more smart home devices, for instance, while Google lets you to upload your own music to its cloud.
Google Assistant handles free-form and web based quries better than Alexa. Google Assistant also boasts two-way conversation based on Google’s own natural language processing algorithm. Assistant is context-aware, so conversation should be more natural and less like a stilted list of commands. For example, you can say, “What’s the weather like tomorrow?” to get a forecast. Follow up with, “And tomorrow”, and Google knows that you’re after a follow-up weather report.
Both Alexa and Google Assistant handle basic tasks – such as setting reminders and alarms, suggesting restaurants, answering trivia questions with ease.
Alexa is more configurable, it takes a lot of time to apply changes that you made in its setting, which can frustrate you. However, Google Assistant is easier to use and less frustrating than Alexa.
The advantage of the Amazon Echo is ‘skills’, which allow third-party applications to add functionality to Alexa. Like Amazon’s Skills, Google also recently opened the Home to developers with a new service called Actions. If you open your app, after some clicking — Devices > Settings > More > Services you will see Kayak, WebMD, NPR One, and a host of services that have made skills for the Home. Although you have to enable skills with Alexa, they default to active with the Home.
Echo can read kindle books for you where you left reading, Google Home can also do that but you have to use Google playbooks.
At present, Google home only supports Philips Hue ecosystem but Echo supports smart home products made by Syska, Oakter, TP-Link, D-Link, and LIFX, as well as Philips. Echo can book cabs, order food, book flights and hotels, and even book an electrician for you but Google Home cannot.
Both smart speakers allow news sources to be customized via their respective applications but the Google Home is currently limited mostly to international sources such as Forbes, BBC, and Al-Jazeera but Echo can fetch news from some local news sources as well.
Echo can understand Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malyalam, and Punjabi proper nouns when used in an English sentence but Home does not support this. In addition, you can use Echo to buy somethings from Amazon.
Performance and Quality
Both smart speakers have three far-field microphones designed to pick up voices from a distance. Google claims it has incorporated hundreds of thousands of various audio environments to ensure the Home can isolate speech even in an environment with added ambient sounds. Echo can recognize your voice from the far side of a room better than Home. Home struggles to recognize your voice when you are playing music at full volume in it.
The Google Home and Amazon Echo can be used as regular Bluetooth speakers and paired with your smartphone or laptop. The Home provides richer, more well-rounded sound than the Echo does. The Home sounds warmer and produces tighter and punchier bass. There is less sound distortion in Home as compared to Echo. For louder voice output, a 3.5 mm audio jack is provided in Echo but in case of Home there is no audio jack is provided, you can buy google home max for a louder output. Clarity and instrument separation are lacking with both speakers, and the mids are quite suppressed in the sound mix.
Both devices support iHeartRadio, Pandora, Spotify, and TuneIn. The Echo also supports Amazon Music, while the Home supports Google Play Music and YouTube Red.
If you have a Google Chromecast linked to your television, you can simply ask Google Home to cast a movie or TV show to it, and even control playback with your voice. In a similar way, the Echo can send movies and television shows to the Fire TV Stick. Google lets you to upload your own music library to its cloud. Now Amazon stopped this service and users who are using this service currently will not be able to use in 2019.
The Echo has multiple wake word options, but only one female voice. You can alert her with, “Alexa,” “Amazon,” “Echo,” or “Computer.” Google Home only has one wake word option, “Hey Google,” but it now has both male and female voices.
In testing, the Home had weaker Wi-Fi connectivity than the Echo. Echo and Google Home now let you make outbound voice calls to regular phones. Google Home devices cannot receive calls. Amazon’s Echo can receive calls from other Echos.
Both the Echo and Home devices let you set up different household profiles so you can switch between users, which is very useful if you and your loved ones have different tastes in music. Google home can recognize 6 different voices and can respond them differently, but in Echo, you have to switch to particular profile to use it.
In terms of parental controls, you can disable purchases via Alexa. You have to delete history manually in both if asked something awkward.
Both are great products, and the choice between them is likely to come down to what you want to do. Google Home is more natural to converse with and a little smarter out of the box. If you are largely looking for a personal assistant, it is the best choice.
While Alexa is a little trickier to talk to, its huge range of Skills means that the Echo can do more than Google Home can. The wider range of smart home Skills also makes Echo better if you want to control your house. Add in Echo’s device-to-device calling, and it ups the stakes again.
The Echo does a better job with local queries, can place calls and send messages, and sounds more natural. The fact that its capabilities can be enhanced with skills is very easy.
Amazon’s offering might have larger market share and better integration with third-parties, but Google’s improving these things all the time and it’s unlikely that you won’t be able to find a workaround in the meantime.