“Okay Google, get me an Uber.”
A new challenger to Amazon Echo has entered the ring, Google Home.
What’s the best choice for your smart home?
We’re about to show you the pros and cons of these two titans of smart home device management.
Google Home is a recent entry into the smart home management arena, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a strong contender.
Google Home has several features that are clear winners when it comes to smart home device management. And it comes loaded with what is arguably the most used search engine around. The Google Home Controller has a far range which allows you to communicate with Google Home from most rooms in your home.
While Google is a well-known brand, it’s natural to wonder what it is doing in the Smart home automation realm. As it turns out, it’s doing a lot.
Google Home can…
- manage your entertainment
- answer pretty much any question you have
- keep you on time for appointments
- provide you with driving directions and flight information
- get you an Uber
- manage most of the smart devices in your home.
It can also connect to streaming devices that include Vizio, Philips, Sony and more. This allows you to watch movies streamed from your iPhone or Andriod device, YouTube, and other streaming services. Google Home also has a silly side and on occasion may ask you random questions or even make a joke. It’s always listening, so be prepared for some unexpected interactions with your new controller.
Amazon Echo has been enjoying some pretty solid press as of late, largely due to its hands-free speaker, Alexa.
You can ask Alexa questions about the weather, your calendar or what movie you want to watch next, she is always happy to answer.
Amazon Echo - Black
Plays all your music from Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and more using just your voice; Fills the room with immersive, 360º omni-directional audio; Allows hands-free ...Made by: Amazon, Available: In stock
Amazon Echo also connects to a variety of entertainment options that include Pandora, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and Spotify. While it allows you to play music through your smartphone; Echo comes equipped with a downward firing speaker system that is designed to fill any room with sound.
The more you interact with Echo, the more it gets to know you. It adapts to your speech patterns and preferences which allow you to manage your smart home devices with simple voice commands.
Echo will turn your lights on or adjust the temperature in your home, and when you aren’t home, you can still send commands via iPhone and Andriod Apps.
Echo can manage a variety of popular devices including…
Here’s What They Can and Can’t Do…
Before we do a side by side comparison, let’s dive deeper into what Google Home and Amazon Echo can do, and what they cannot do, when it comes to smart home device management, entertainment, and calendar (and pretty much life) management.
Smart Home Device Control
When you take away the cool factor at the end of the day, what you have are two great companies with dueling smart home controllers. We will get into all the sexy stuff in a bit, but first, we need to know how they connect with the devices they control, and what exactly what providers can connect to each controller.
Google Home – Device Control Review
Since they are the new kid on the block, we will start with Google Home. Currently Google Home connects with Nest, SmartThings, Philips Hue and IFTTT. This gives the controller the ability to manage your lights, thermostats and other home switches.
Google Home is still young, so you should look for a continuous stream of partners in the short term. While its current partners aren’t at the same depth as Echo, you can rest assured that Google is highly focused on bringing in new smart device companies.
There is a good reason to have faith in Google Home, what they lack in partners, they more than make up for in functionality. The assistant feature can answer difficult questions, and its recognition software is superior to Echo. Google Home is a narration pro; it understands what you are trying to say even if you aren’t seaking clearly. It also benefits from Chromecast, which connects Google Home to your smart television and speakers.
These are some of the best smart devices that are compatible with Google Home:
- Chromecast Audio: belonging to Google this audio component is obviously compatible, but it is also pretty cool, it can turn almost every speaker in your house into a smart speaker. And while the streaming options are limited at the moment, as more music services are added Chromecast Audio will be the best way to get the party started.
- Ecobee: You may not know much about this smart thermostat, but you will soon. Similar to Nest Ecobee gets the win when it comes to energy efficiency and design. With an innovative touch screen, this thermostat is definitely worth checking out.
- LIFX: These easy to set-up light bulbs are becoming more and more popular among smart device owners. They require no hub, you just connect them to the network, and that’s it. If they have a downside, they are pricier than competitors like Philips. While Philips requires use to purchase a smart bridge, LIFX is pretty much plug and play.
- Wemo: If your smart devices aren’t quite as smart as they used to be, or maybe they aren’t smart at all, Wemo has a way to help. Their smart outlets allow you to connect your not so smart devices to the network, which allows you to turn them on or off with Google Home or a smartphone.
While Google Home is still relatively new, they are growing quickly.
They have a lot going for them, and it is guaranteed that they will continue to build new relationships with smart device providers.
While this version of Google Home may seem focused on entertainment more than home automation, it is important to remember that it is two years behind the Echo. And while some may see this as a repeat of Google TV, Google Home has some staying power and given time the home automation components will become more robust and perhaps even surpass Google Home’s entertainment value.
Amazon Echo – Device Control Review
For the last few years, Echo has dominated the smart home automation scene; it hasn’t had any real competition until the release of Google Home.
This by no means indicates that Echo is old technology, at two years old it still enjoys the benefits of its youth. There are some things that Echo excels at, and there are also some opportunities when it comes to its smart device management skills.
Echo has been the pioneer in far-field voice recognition; it is designed to work even when there is a lot of noise in the background, which makes it superior to computer voice recognition software and even Siri.
Since its inception, Amazon has kept the Echo focused on smart home devices and automation. Alexa can now be found in refrigerators, and soon she will be in several Ford models.
Unlike Google, Echo cannot manage smart devices on its own; it relies on a smart home hub to create a centralized command center. Samsung’s SmartThings Hub is a good place to start if you aren’t that familiar with smart home hubs. SmartThings is around $98 on Amazon, and worth the investment if you have several smart home devices.
Wink is another good option, it’s not as powerful as the SmartThings Hub, but it is compatible with almost every device.
Once you pair the Echo with a smart home hub, there are lots of compatible devices. Here are just a few (it’s a long list) of the smart devices you can connect:
- Philips Hue Starter Kit (lighting)
- LIFX Smart LED Bulbs (lighting)
- Haiku Home Smart Ceiling Fans
- GE Link Starter Kit (lighting)
- WeMo (outlets)
- TP-Link Smart Plug (outlets)
- Nest (thermostat)
- Lyric T5 (thermostat)
- Honeywell Smart Thermostat
These are just a small percentage of the smart home devices that you can connect. While Amazon has had more time to build relationships with smart home device providers, it has also made that its primary focus. As a smart home device manager Echo is currently outpacing Google Home, Amazon’s decision to prioritize the home automation leaves Google Home trying to play catch up.
Smart Home Device Control Winner: Amazon Echo
While Echo has the edge on smart home device management, Google Home is a master at keeping you entertained.
Both have in-house music options.
Amazon has Amazon Prime Music, and Google has Google Play Music.
Google Home can also access all of your playlists; which includes lists on both iPhones and Android devices; it allows you to access music from a variety of both paid and free music services. Google also owns YouTube, which provides endless music and video options and it excels at finding music that you have never heard of. Adding the Allcast App for Andriod and iPhone will allow you to stream music, movies, and photos through Chromecast on your Smart TV.
Amazon has a more limited list of music services to choose from; these include Amazon Music, Prime Music, Spotify Premium, Pandora, TuneIn, iHeartRadio and Audible. While their list of streaming music options is larger than Google Home, its YouTube that makes Google Home the winner when it comes to music and video.
Winner in Music: Google Home
When it comes to TV it becomes a cage match between Chromecast Ultra and Amazon Fire Stick, while both are designed to stream content, they operate in very different ways. Amazon Fire Stick used to have a fatal flaw in that it didn’t respond to voice commands. But Alexa came to the rescue; now you can purchase a new voice remote that will allow you to speak the title of the show or movie you want to watch.
Chromecast Ultra has a unique design that works with the majority of smart TVs, but it lacks a controller. However, when connected to Google Home, you can use voice commands to play a variety of shows and movies. Both Amazon Echo and Google Home now have the ability to stream shows and movies using voice commands, but Echo has a slight edge here as the commands to Alexa are easier to execute, Google Home requires a few extra steps to start your favorite show.
Winner in TV: Amazon Echo
Personal Assistant Comparison
Google has been managing most of our lives for years now, so it is to be expected that their Personal Assistant would be superior to Amazon Echo. Google Home knows more secrets about you than some of your closest friends. It knows where you need to be and when you need to be there, what roads to take to get there, and what weather and traffic you may encounter along your way.
Don’t have a car? No worries, Google Home will get an Uber to your house and provide instructions on where you are going. Google Home also remembers your preferences, so if you always stop at Starbucks, it can show you the closest one. Google Home is also smarter, it benefits from, well, being Google.
But Alexa is no slouch, with over 3500 skills it can manage your schedule, book your flight and tell you the weather. While Alexa has a lot at its disposal, Google Home kinda knows what you want before you want it, and the knowledge of your patterns and its ability to get to know you makes it the winner in this category.
Winner in Personal Assistance: Google Home
|Amazon Echo||Google Home|
|Wake Commands||"Alexa" "Echo" "Amazon"||"Hey Google" "OK Google"|
|Current SmartHome Partners||SmartThings, Wink, Insteon, Philips Hue, IFTTT, Nest, Wemo, LIFX||SmartThings, Philips Hue, IFTTTT, Nest, LIFX|
|Music Options||Amazon Prime Music, Spotify Premium, iHeartRadio, Pandora, TuneIn||YouTube Music, Google Play Music, Spotify, Pandora, TuneIn|
|Output to Stereo Speakers||Only available with Dot||Only available with Chromecast|
|Audio Synced on Multiple Devices||Only to Google Cast devices|
|Personal Assistant Features||Calendar Management, shopping and to-do lists, flight status, Uber, package tracking report, traffic, news and sports scores||Personalized daily briefings, calendar management, traffic report, flight status, package tracking, email reader, shopping lists|
The truth is that either one of these options is great, and both have the potential only to become greater. In this battle it really comes down to personal preference, while Amazon Echo is a master at smart home device management, Google Home excels at language interpretation and keeping you entertained.
In its first two years, Amazon Echo had no real challenges, which made it the clear front-runner in the home automation field. But when you aren’t challenged you can start to become stagnant, now with a true competitor in Google Home, both Amazon Echo and Google Home have the drive to grow and change the way we use and manage our Smart home devices. Competition is not only good for Amazon and Google, but it’s also great for consumers -which makes this an exciting time for all of us who love our smart home devices.
Amazon has already made adjustments the way their Fire Stick works by adding voice controls, and Google Home has made some significant strides in the few months since its initial launch.
So get your popcorn ready because smart home automation is about to get real.