Google Home vs Amazon Echo: Which is the best smart speaker for me?

Not sure whether to get a Google Home or Amazon Echo smart speaker? Here’s everything you need to know to make the right choice.

17 Jan 2020

Choosing the perfect smart speaker for your home isn’t an easy decision. What’s similar about the Amazon Echo and Google Home? What’s different?

If you’ve already got smart devices in your home like lightbulbs, thermostats and kitchen appliances, it’s best to pick the speaker that works most seamlessly with your smart home gadgets. However, if you’re just starting to turn your house into a smart home, it can be pretty confusing.

Here, we’ll take you through everything that the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa can do to help you make that all-important choice.

What can smart speakers do?

Still not sure how a voice assistant can make life easier at home? Here are just a few things you can do with a good smart speaker:

  • Adjust lighting and heating with compatible smart lighting and thermostats
  • Control smart appliances like washing machines and ovens with your voice
  • Play songs and playlists, just by asking
  • Ask to listen to your favourite radio station
  • Put appointments in your calendar, set reminders and tell you your schedule
  • Hear the latest news headlines, weather forecasts and your favourite team’s results and fixtures
  • Link with other smart speakers to play music throughout your home

Amazon Echo with Alexa

The first Amazon Echo was released in the UK in 2016, and it’s only got better with age. Now, you can buy Alexa-enabled speakers of all shapes and sizes to suit any space.

With Alexa, you can get instant answers to any burning questions, as well as set timers, create calendar events and friendly reminders. Simply say “Alexa, set my alarm to 7am tomorrow morning”, or “Alexa, set a reminder to take the bins out on Wednesday” and your speaker will remind you.

But of course, Alexa can do so much more. If you have a subscription to Amazon Music, Spotify, Apple Music or Deezer, listening to a song you love is as easy as asking. Plus, the latest Amazon Echo features 360° speakers powered by Dolby, so you’ll get awesome sound in every direction.

With the Alexa app, you can easily control compatible devices with your voice or from your phone. Let’s say you’ve settled in for movie night and you’ve left the lights on. Simply say “Alexa, turn off the lounge lights”, and you’ll be ready to dive straight into your blockbuster. The same goes for heating. If you’re feeling chilly, ask Alexa to turn your smart thermostat up a few degrees.

The best thing about having Amazon Alexa in your home is that it’s constantly learning new skills. That means unlike most tech, it stays future-proof. You can even order a pizza from Dominos or book an Uber cab journey just by asking your Echo speaker.

For smaller models like the Echo and Echo Dot, you may need to get a smart home hub to link certain devices. However, the Amazon Echo Plus features a built-in smart hub that makes connecting your gadgets easy. And if you want to watch your favourite YouTubers or check out step-by-step recipe guides while you’re cooking, the Amazon Echo Show features a screen. So, you can even stream the shows and movies you love.

Google Home

Google Home speakers make it incredibly easy to link every smart device in your home. Just like the Amazon Echo, you’re able to connect everything from compatible lighting to smart TVs, washing machines to smart plugs.

If you have an Android phone, you’re probably familiar with the Google Assistant. However, even if you use your phone’s voice assistant regularly, having a separate voice-activated speaker really expands what you’re able to do.

As well as playing virtually any song with a simple voice request, you can also search Google for answers. And the conversation doesn’t just end when you get your answer, either. For instance, if you urgently need to buy bread and milk, ask your Google Home “Where’s my nearest supermarket?” you can then ask “what time does it close?”, and your speaker will recognise it as a related question.

It’s also pretty smart at recognising voices. So, if you ask, “what meetings do I have today?”, the speaker will know it’s you and give you your exact schedule and nobody else’s. Plus, if you have a Google Chromecast plugged into your TV, you can ask your speaker to play any show on Netflix, BBC iPlayer or any other streaming service. No more endless searching for that blockbuster movie.

Perhaps the best feature of Google Home is the ability to set routines. These are sequences of actions that you can bundle together as one. So, if you like to know your schedule as soon as you wake up, you could say “Good morning, Google” and instantly hear your upcoming appointments, weather and traffic reports, and switch the lights on – all in one action.

The Google Nest Mini is the perfect smart speaker to help you get started. With powerful speakers and stronger bass than you’d expect from such a compact unit, it’s great for unwinding to your favourite tunes. It does just about everything the larger Google Home speaker can do, and suits any room you place it in.

Just like the Amazon Echo Show, you can add a screen to your Google Assistant setup with the Google Nest Hub. It’ll let you view all your appointments, your shopping list, local weather and news headlines. And if you love keeping up to date with the latest content on YouTube, just ask the Nest Hub and it’ll play your favourite vlogger straight away.

To find out more about Google’s voice-activated speakers, check out everything you need to know about Google Home.

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