Smart voice assistants are cool. The ability to control my home with just a few quick commands means that I haven’t touched a light switch in months. Wondering about the weather? I always know what the temperature is outside. In fact, it might be one of the most frequently asked questions in my apartment — anyone from the south knows the temperature and weather conditions can change on a whim. But which smart voice assistant is best?
When it initially came down to choosing between Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, I faced a dilemma. The Amazon Echo featuring Alexa’s voice was one of the first on the market, which meant it had the most time to grow and refine itself. On the other hand, when I was deciding, the Google Home with Google Assistant happened to be on sale. Unable to choose between the two, I bought both. What better way to decide which of the two smart home assistants is best? (I know Siri exists through the HomePod and HomeKit, but Siri’s constant misunderstanding of my questions — or maybe lack of ability to process southern accents — tells me all I need to know.)
What I discovered surprised me. I expected to find myself using the Amazon Echo more, but Google Home became my go-to option. Here’s why.
A key reason I prefer Google Home is how simple set-up is. While neither platform is particularly difficult to set up, I liked how Google made it so easy to download, pair, and start controlling my smart home devices. When I wanted to pair my Philips Hue bulbs to the Google Home Mini, the process was straightforward and simple. In fact, the most complicated part of it came from the Hue bulbs themselves. Pressing a button on top of the Hue Bridge just reminded me of resetting a faulty router…in the early 2000s.
The Amazon Echo isn’t hard to set up or use, but the pairing process for smart devices seems more cumbersome in comparison. It usually involves adding a skill and requires a couple extra taps in the app. Sometimes it requires going into the app for both devices.
On the other hand, Google Home has only gotten better with time. Now the Mini even comes paired with smart lights that automatically connect as soon as they’re screwed into a socket. Easy as pie.
But that’s not the main reason I prefer Google Home.
Everyone remembers those goofy robotic voices that early Apple computers could generate. How many kids spent their time in the computer lab at school giggling at how badly the system pronounced certain words? That’s what Alexa’s voice reminds me of every time I hear it. Although the system has been through multiple updates that use a variety of linguistic techniques to produce a more natural inflection, it still doesn’t sound normal.
When asked how to julienne vegetables, both Google Assistant and Alexa share similar answers, but the naturalness and cadence of their deliveries are drastically different.
Google Assistant, on the other hand, sounds like someone on the other end of a telephone: natural and easy to listen to, without the impression I’m speaking to a robot that’s almost, but not quite, ready for human integration. It seems like a small thing to nitpick, but when it comes to a smart assistant that I am carrying on a conversation with, the quality of the voice matters.
Yes, I know that Amazon Echo has more than 50,000 Alexa skills and the Skills Blueprint for the easy, unrestricted creation of even more skills, but that’s always struck me as a lot of effort. Google Home might not be able to do my shopping on Amazon, but the fact I can ask it a question and then follow up with another related question without pausing has always appealed to me more.
When it comes to Google Home, it can already do all the basic functions I need. It tells me the weather, turns my lights on and off, and plays music. I can set alarms and hear the latest news from around the world. And Google does a better job at answering the random questions that pop into my head throughout the day. If I need it to do something specific, chances are good that I can find an IFTTT recipe that will do the same as an Alexa Skill.
I’ll admit, the Amazon Echo has a lot going for it. It’s a great platform, and people more plugged into the Amazon ecosystem might get significantly more out of it than I do. All of the improvements and refinements made to the Echo astound me, and Google Home hasn’t quite caught up to it in that regard. Despite all of this, Google Home feels like asking an old friend for a favor — and that’s earned it a spot in my heart as my go-to smart assistant.
The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.
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