Amazon Echo vs Google Home
Whilst our new home in Cambridge is being renovated, we have been forced to rent a property whilst this work is being done. Luckily the kitchen in this temporary home is huge, much like the industrial kitchens I am so used to growing up in my family’s restaurant. This kitchen is able to accommodate everything from our cooking appliances, food store, dining table, small office and my coffee machines. I love it. Needless to say, I am spending far more time in the kitchen as it has everything I need. The kitchen is most certainly the centre of our home, as they should be.
It began with Alexa
When I first bought my Amazon Echo just over a year ago, it was a game changer. I was able to ask for traffic updates, recipes, turn Phillips Hue lights on and even to play music whilst I was either cooking, entertaining, making coffee or working from home. Even my kids liked asking Alexa questions I was unable or refusing to answer. But as time went on we started to use it less and less.
Although Alexa comes with a huge range of built in ‘skills’, I found that to make use of externally developed skills was a little bit awkward, to the point you are having to speak in Alexa language. This prompted strange looks when doing these when we had visitors round. For example, to get technology news you have to ask “Alexa, Ask Tech news to tell me the latest news”. This seems fine if you are regularly in the app to remember the command, but if you use Alexa infrequently you can often finding yourself muddled up when trying to remember a very specific (and sometime odd) spoken command.
Google in your Home
On Black Friday this year, I decided to take advantage of the discount on a new Google Home to see how it compared. Whilst they do pretty much the same thing in principle, Home is more embedded to your Google ecosystem and uses only a hand full of external applications. This, I believe, helps with the overall experience as you speak to the Home in a much more true English command.
Although I am signed up to a lot of Google services, I do not subscribe to Google Music or Spotify - I took the plunge some time ago to Apple Music. This is where I struggled the most with the Home as the Echo at least gave me a small selection of free music with my Amazon Prime account. That said, Google do offer a free 3 month trial which we are enjoying right now. If you are Chrome Cast and Android user, I think it is a no brainer but to go for the Google Home.
Where the Home really shines is when it comes to searching for answers to questions you may pose to it. It is no surprise that the Home can draw upon such a large array of answers and it is for this reason why it now sits proudly alone in the kitchen. It will also talk to related Google apps you may have installed, which I think is a clever touch that has been missed so far with the Echo.
Smart speakers for the new home
Within our new home, I have high expectation for any smart speaker system we install. I want these to be installed through out the house and be able to work seamlessly from room to room. The good news is we have around another year or so to make up our mind and in that time Apple’s Homepod should be released. This could be beneficial as that this integrates with Apple Music, the music service which I have spent a long time collating the music I love to.
The downside to this conundrum is the wireless speakers we own and plan to install around the house, Sonos. Although the easy conclusion is that Homepod is looking to compete with Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Home, but I think Homepod is really taking on Sonos and their great sounding wireless speakers. At the moment, Sonos have releases a Sonos One with Alexa built but will not play music from Apple Music even though the Sonos app does. Alexa will only play music from Spotify or Amazon Music Unlimited.
I guess we will just have to wait and see how things pan out, but wouldn’t it be great if all three smart speakers could suppose all of the music services offered by these companies?!