Google Home vs. Amazon Echo

Google Home vs. Amazon Echo: Which smart speaker is better for you?

Editor’s note: Google just announced the new Nest Mini Smart speaker at its Pixel event 2019. We have yet to fully review this product, but it may affect your decision of which product to buy.

Today’s homes are increasingly becoming smarter. That’s partly due to how smart speakers have been integral in the rapid evolution of the smart home. Google’s Home speaker has been out for quite some time and remains as popular as ever serving both as an intelligent virtual assistant and a great music player. However, it has new competition with the recently announced Amazon Echo, which is the company’s third-generation model. These two are notable players in the smart home space, offering intelligent virtual assistants, rich sound performances to please audiophiles, and the fact that they both support a wide array of connected smart home gadgets that can be controlled and accessed through voice.

If you’re thinking about purchasing a smart speaker, you might be going back and forth about which one to buy. We hear you. With all the news and info you hear about the two most popular voice assistants, Alexa and Google Assistant, it’s hard to know which one to pick. Knowing how they’re similar and how they are different could help you make a well-informed purchase. Which smart speaker is right for you? Here’s a breakdown of cost, what the two voice assistants can do, what they look like, and their compatibility with smart home devices.

Appearance

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Google Home

The original Google Home is shaped like a cylinder, and it looks a little bit like a dehumidifier. It sits 5.62 inches tall, and it’s 3.79 inches in diameter. It has a white top and a slate-gray fabric bottom.

You can get special bases for the speaker that changes the gray to a possibly more appealing color for $20. These bases are available in carbon or copper metal or you can opt for a color base.

Additionally, you can get the Google Home Max, Hub, or Google Home Mini. The Google Home Max and the Home Mini are larger and smaller, respectively than the original Google Home model. The Google Home Max is more expensive and is built for sound, while the Google Home Mini is a miniature, cheaper version of the original Google Home.

Google rebranded the Google Home Hub as the Nest Hub. The Nest Hub has a 7-inch touchscreen display. The screen allows you to do things like watch videos, view photos, control your smart home via touchscreen, and view who’s at your door when you have a video doorbell that works with the Hub like the Nest Hello.

Google also released the Nest Hub Max. It functions exactly like its sibling but offers a few more features that make it the ultimate smart display — a larger 10-inch display for better media consumption, richer sound performance, and a built-in camera that allows for two-way video calls and peace of mind home security.

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Amazon Echo

everything amazon announced at september 2019 event all new echo

The original Echo is now in its third generation. Similar to its predecessors, it has a cylindrical shape, and you can pre-order the Amazon Echo in one of four colors — heather gray, sandstone, charcoal, and a new twilight blue.

In addition to the regular Echo, you can buy several other types of Echo devices, depending on your needs. The Echo Dot is a mini version of the Echo. On its third generation, it does just about everything the original Echo does, but the Dot is smaller and cheaper, so it’s a lower-tier version in terms of its tech specs. There’s also the Echo Input, which isn’t a standalone Echo speaker, but it can turn an old speaker in your home into an Alexa-enabled speaker.

The Echo Show is on its second generation, but a more affordable version called the Echo Show 5 came out in the summer of 2019 — as well as the Echo Show 8 that was introduced in September 2019. The Echo Spot is a smaller, alarm clock-style device with a screen. The Show is good for a kitchen (looking at recipe videos), while the Spot is great as a bedroom alarm clock or for a living area. The Echo Show and Echo Spot also lets you see who’s at the door if you have a video doorbell, make video calls, and more.

One major difference between the Echo Show and the Google Nest Hub Max is that the Nest Hub Max also doubles as a handy Nest security camera, offering peace of mind by integrating many Nest Cam features for security.

Google Home responds to touch, and it has LED lights that activate while in use. Conversely, instead of having lights along the top, the Echo has a light ring around the circumference. Both of these smart speakers have cylindrical shapes, but the Amazon Echo is a bit more streamlined than the Google Home. The Amazon Echo’s top is flat, while the Google Home has a slight slant.

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Cost

Amazon Echo 3rd gen angle view
Jennifer McGrath/Digital Trends

Echo

The Amazon Echo will set you back $100 (retail price) and should remain at that price for a bit since its a new product. With the holidays approaching, though, sales are bound to pop up. An Echo Dot retails for $50, but if you buy a second-generation model, you will pay a lot less (between $20 and $40), and the third generation is often on sale as well for around $30. If you want to go with a truly budget option, the Echo Input retails for only $35. The new Echo Show 5 smart display retails for only $90, while the slightly larger Echo Show 8 has an MSRP of $130.

Google Home

The Google Home costs about the same, retailing at $99. You can often find it on sale for even cheaper (around $69). If you go with a Google Home Mini you’ll pay just $49 (or around $30 when it’s on sale). The Nest Hub is $129, and you can probably find it on sale for around $100. The Nest Hub Max retails for $229.

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Voice assistant

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Echo

Alexa is the virtual assistant associated with the Amazon Echo. You can change the voice to different accents or languages. Additionally, you can ask Alexa to control your connected smart devices, ask for the weather for the weekend, set timers, play games, set reminders, set a dinner bell, and so much more. Amazon is continuing to add new features to Alexa regularly. Over the past several months, Amazon has released new features like Alexa Guard and Whisper Mode.

Google Home

As for the Google Home, its virtual assistant is, well, the Google Assistant — leaving no doubts about its purpose for users. One interesting thing about the Google Assistant is that you can change the voice to male, as well as pick a different language. Google Assistant is multilingual, meaning that you can speak more than one language in the home and it’ll understand. You can even use interpreter mode and have Google Assistant act as a real-time translator. Plus, Google consistently adds more features to Google Assistant.

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Skills

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Echo

Amazon announced the Skill Blueprints portal as an option for people to build their own skills. So not only can you add professional skills to your Alexa device, but you can also create and publish skills to the Alexa Skills Store.

It’s worth keeping in mind, too, that both the Amazon Echo and Google Home allow setting up routines comprised of multiple actions triggered by a single command or condition. For example, you can make your smart lights turn on and hear a news broadcast at the same time each day to wake you up.

Want to make phone calls with your smart speaker? That’s possible on both devices, but the Echo Show and Spot are better for video calling since the Google Home Hub lacks a camera and the Nest Hub Max has a higher entry price.

Want to ask Alexa multiple questions? She lets users ask questions one after another as long as they’re within about five seconds of each other. But, they have to ask one question, wait for an answer, and so on.

Google Home

The Google Home has many features as well, with new ones coming out every day. You don’t have to add skills to Google Assistant in the same manner as you do with Alexa though.

Google Home recently became capable of a “multiple actions” feature that allows people to ask more than one question at once. For example, you could say, “OK, Google, what time is it and what’s the weather forecast?”

One interesting technology that’s been slowly coming to the Google Assistant is Google Duplex, which can make calls on your behalf. Google has already shown off the technology and posted audio clips on its blog to highlight the authenticity of the capability, and the technology has already started rolling out on phones.

A study that investigated how the Google Home and Amazon Echo do while answering questions found that the Google Assistant answered more correctly and made more attempts to respond to questions than Alexa. So, for now, the Amazon Echo offers more functionality overall. But, if it’s specific capabilities you want, the Google Home is a wise choice.

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Smart home device compatibility

Amazon Echo Second Generation

When trying to compare these two leading smart speakers, you might wonder whether you can use the gadgets to control your smart thermostat or intelligent light bulbs, for example. These days, many smart home devices are compatible with both Alexa and Google Assistant, although if you’re unsure you can click on the links below to see if the gadget in question is on the list of compatible devices.

Echo

Alexa works with more than 60,000 smart home products. Here’s our list of some of the best compatible devices.

Google Home

Google Home supports more than 30,000 products, which make its compatibility level seem substantially less. It’s worth noting, though, that in January 2018, the Google Assistant was only compatible with 1,500 devices. That jump indicates smart home compatibility is an area of focus and desired growth for Google. Here’s our list of some of the best compatible devices.

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What’s the verdict?

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Buying a smart speaker and choosing the best one for you isn’t always straightforward, and each of these speakers has its merits. At the moment, it seems as though the Amazon Echo continues to be the better option. It is compatible with more smart home devices. Plus, there are more types of Echo devices to choose from.

We will say that the Google Home and the voice assistant inside does seem smarter than Alexa. We’ll continue to update this post as more features and capabilities for both devices are announced. For now, Echo is still leading the way, especially for audiophiles that crave superior audio.

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Editors' Recommendations