UPDATED February 10, 2022 This piece has been updated to reflect the emergence of new technology
Christian Mathews Security Writer
Which is the best? Google Home or Alexa? While we can’t conclusively say which is better than the other, since your opinion may differ. What we can do, is exhaustively discuss in detail all the features of these two major voice assistants.
The good and the bad, nothing left out. Weighing the pros and cons of each assistant and of course based on your preference, can then decide which is better.
1Google Assistant vs Alexa – Battle of the voice assistants
Both Alexa and Google assistants are heavyweights in the smart home arena. Choosing the best among the two is a tall order, to say the least. Amazon initially had the advantage of having a head start in the market. However, Google has been covering significant ground countering Amazon’s dominance of the smart assistant/speaker scene.
Consider this case. Alexa may have more skills compared to Google Assistant. However, it has a rigid syntax which makes it somewhat hard to use. What is a syntax you might ask? In this context syntax means the specific way in which you speak to the voice assistant or how you voice your commands.
With Google Assistant, you can voice commands just as you would when you’re talking naturally. With Alexa however, if you fail to follow the correct syntax, Alexa won’t understand any of your queries or commands. AAlexa may have more “skills” / compatibility with more devices and services but it’s hard to use. Google Assistant has fewer skills, called “actions”, but its more advanced natural language processor gives it the upper hand, in that it’s more user friendly.
When deciding which voice assistant is the best, weigh the pros and cons of each assistant, then let your preferences kick in.
Google Nest Mini
The Google Nest Mini is the first stop for anyone looking to try smart speakers for the first time. As it come with a price tag that’s under $50. And don’t let its price fool you. Despite costing less, it has similar functionality as Google Home Mini. It has better speakers, additional microphones and an in-house learning chip.
The last feature helps the Google Nest Mini better understand your queries/commands. This means an even better experience for you as the user. It also comes in five color options: charcoal grey, sky blue, light grey, coral orange, and chalk.
Google Home Mini
It’s the predecessor to the Google Nest Mini. It came out to counter Amazon’s Echo Dot which is the same price range. It offers good sound quality, with all functionalities that come with Google Assistant. Features range from making calls to adding events on your calendar. You can even cast music or video to a cast enabled device like the Chromecast.
It’s the predecessor to Google’s latest offering, Google Nest audio. It came out as a way of Google countering Amazon’s influence in the smart home/speaker field. Many ask what can you do with Google Home. The list is extensive and covers most of your needs.
It has similar functional capabilities as the Echo. It costs less than the echo, it’s more visually appealing and relies on Google Assistant. Just like the Echo, it lacks Bluetooth connectivity, aux input and it has to be plugged into a power source.
Google Home Max
The first impression you got from Google Home Max is that it’s loud and big. Other than its hefty price tag, it’s a great buy if you would like a relatively loud speaker. It has the functionality of a smart speaker and great sound quality/fidelity.
This smart speaker isn’t portable unless you don’t mind hauling a speaker that weighs 5.3kgs. It has cool features such as a self-adjusting equalizer, and it even lets you know when you’ve set the speaker incorrectly/upside down.
Google Nest Hub
Its primary use is as a display. Using your voice you can see your photos, ask for help from Google Assistant and virtually control all components in your smart home. It has an ambient light sensor to adjust the display/brightness better. It also offers personalized searches and it lacks a camera which may be a plus or downside depending on your preferences.
This smart display from google comes in four color options: aqua, chalk, sand, and charcoal. Additionally, it comes with a 6-month free trial of a YouTube premium subscription.
Google Nest Hub max
Google Nest Hub max has all the functionality as the Google Nest hub. The difference isthat it has a camera and a slightly larger display screen. You can also make video calls using Duo on Google Nest Hub max.
4Google Home Security
Nest’s wide range of security products is now compatible with Google Assistant. This is after Google acquired Nest in January 2014. This means you can connect your Nest doorbell, cameras, alarm system, and even thermostat to your Google Home app. Now you can remotely monitor your home in real-time from another device, trigger the alarm if you suspect anything fishy, etc.
Additionally, Google Assistant and the Google Home app will work with other compatible 3rd party security devices.
5Google Home – Smart Home
To set up your Smart Home, you’ll first have to add compatible devices to your Google Home app. Once connected, you can control the lights, temperature using the thermostat settings and ask Google Assistant to cast music or video. You can even get real-time alerts in case of a fire or burglary at your home.
6Google integration with other brands/devices
In terms of integrations, which is better, Alexa or Google Home? Google integration capabilities have been catching up with Amazon’s Alexa. However, there are claims that while Google Assistant/ Google Home may integrate with some devices, they may not work properly. Google however still has some advantage. Google assistant is supported on all android devices and based on the number that is out there, it’s a big win for Google.
First released in March 2014, Amazon Echo came out at first as a smart speaker. Over time, it evolved into a sort of smart assistant, smart hub hybrid. The Amazon Echo is a speaker that will play your music, while having the functionality of Alexa. So you can ask Alexa to call someone, ask for an Uber and even order some select items on Amazon.
Amazon echo dot
Released in 2016, Amazon Echo dot is the smaller, more advanced version of the Amazon echo. It has all the functionality as the Amazon echo, with a better, appealing design. Further, you can link the Echo dot to another speaker if you find it’s not loud enough. Given its small size, this feature is super helpful. Make sure you know what can you do with an Echo Dot.
The Echo studio is similar to the Amazon echo, with similar functional capabilities and smart hub integration. The only difference being the Echo studio is bigger and more suited for immersive surround audio, something you’ll love when watching movies especially action movies.
Alexa show/ Eco show
The Eco show was first released in June 2017. It came with a 10-inch touch-responsive screen and better speakers. It features all of Echo home capabilities, with Alexa enabled. You can control your connected smart devices using voice commands or even by touch.
9Alexa integration with other brands/devices
This is where Alexa wins. Alexa utilizes the “skills” function to integrate with different products/services. Currently, Alexa has more skills compared to Google Assistant, and it’s more compatible when used with other devices compared to Google Assistant.
10Alexa Smart home
Using any Alexa enabled device, you can control various components connected to your smart hub such as turning lights on or off (Phillip Hue bulbs), changing settings on your thermostat, ask Alexa to play/cast music or video, etc. Additionally, if you have smart carbon monoxide/smoke detectors connected to your smart hub, you can get real-time alerts in case of any hazard that may occur at your place i.e. fire, carbon monoxide, etc.
11Alexa Home Security
Using the smart hub, Alexa can connect all compatible fire and security alarms, smart locks, and even security cameras such as those from Ring, Arlo, August, etc.
Amazon is slated to introduce a paid subscription of Alexa Guard which is expected to offer the following features:
- Deterring unwanted visitors
- Real-time alerts in case of a fire or burglary at your house
- Alexa can alert emergency personnel in case of an incident
Now you have a better idea which is better Alexa or Google Home.
A point to note when deciding which assistant is best; when you choose one assistant i.e. Alexa, it’s like you’re picking one side, and you can have only what’s offered in that assistant’s ecosystem in this case by Amazon. Also, it’s worth noting the devices you currently have and if most of them are compatible with the smart assistant you want.