Should I buy Google Home or Amazon Echo?
Updated, April 2017: This post was recently refreshed to make sure that all information is still valid.
There are now two great home-based assistant speaker systems you can put in your house, but which one is the best fit for you? Are you a full-time Google user with a Chromecast on every television and an Android phone in both hands? Do you live and die by being able to have Amazon rush you something within an hour so you don't have to stop what you are doing? Maybe you're looking for the best way to fully automate your home, or the most efficient way to automate your personal life?
There's a lot to consider when choosing between Google Home and Amazon Echo, and it really comes down to what kind of person you are. First you need to know what kind of commands you can give and conversations you can have. We've got you covered here!
As you can see, neither speaker is perfect and there's some personalization needed to really get the most out of either experience. There's a few basic rules you can align with through this video:
- Home is unlikely to ever be as capable as Echo for ordering from Amazon.
- Echo is unlikely to ever handle sending video to your televisions like Home.
- Google apps are much easier to connect to Home, but most work just fine on Echo.
There are plenty of basics that these speakers are always going to be able to do in roughly the same way. If you want a smart speaker in your kitchen that will offer you recipes or measurement conversions, both of these will work in essentially the same way. If you're looking for a nice single speaker to stream music in one room, both systems will handle that just fine. Asking basic questions about the weather or common search definitions are all the same.
Where things start to get more interesting is in less common but more day-to-day interactions. Starting from the top, you'll quickly learn that saying "Alexa" ten times a day to interact with you speaker is more convenient than "OK Google" will ever be (you can make this a little nicer with "Hey Google" but it's still not as mellifluous). Echo also has the benefit of having been around longer, which means Amazon has more services thanks to partnerships. If you have a favorite pizza order, you can have it delivered with only your voice. If you're looking for suggestions on a new mixed drink, there's an Alexa partner for that. You can even check your bank balance with Echo, though you probably shouldn't.
Asking to see a YouTube video and having it just show up on your television is so damn cool.
Google's strength with Home right now is in polish. The commands are more personal and conversation-like. You can use the nicknames you set in the Hue app without any extra configuration. Home treats everything like a first-party feature, where a lot of Alexa add on's require you to say "Tell [X Service] to do [Y command]" to get it to work. Home also syncs music across any Google Cast speaker, where Amazon Echo only plays on one speaker at a time. It's undeniably limited in these early days, especially when it comes to some of its coolest features, but the potential for this speaker to do everything Echo does only more naturally is significant. Also, asking to see a YouTube video and having it just show up on your television is so damn cool.
What about music?
Lots of people just want a speaker that will pull music when you call for it, and don't plan to use the Echo or Home for much more than that. While Google Home and Amazon Echo allow you to connect to a bunch of different third-part music services, both rely on internal services for the primary music request system. And they don't share, which means Amazon Music isn't available on Google Home and Google Play Music isn't available on Amazon Echo. This isn't likely to change anytime soon.
For many, this decision may come down to price. Amazon's Echo is $50 more than the $130 Google Home, but the smaller Echo Dot is only $50. It's cheaper to put Alexa in more rooms of your house, but if you care about streaming music and don't have a whole-house speaker system Home is a comparably inexpensive system that does a ton more. There's no clear "winner" if you look at it that way, but once you figure out what kind of user you are there's a lot of fun to be had!