If you want to take your smart home to the next level, you need an integrated smart voice assistant.
Fortunately, you only have a few choices, and odds are you’re heavily considering Amazon Alexa vs. Google Home.
If you’re not sure which to choose, read on for a detailed breakdown of their core differences and similarities
The main difference between Alexa and Google Home is that Amazon Alexa is better for folks seeking true smart home integration. For instance Alexa offers better speakers and a superior range of unique services, like senior medical support. In contrast, Google Home, is a better choice if you want smart home devices that can multitask capably. Google Home’s smart home control app is also better than Alexa’s counterpart application.
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Why Use a Smart Voice Assistant?
Smart voice assistants are essentially smart home helpers.
They can provide a wide range of tasks and support, ranging from making shopping lists for you to reporting the weather to playing music and much more – all from voice controls or handicaps on mobile devices.
Most smart voice assistants are controllable via dedicated speakers or smartphones, so you benefit from hands-free control no matter which one you choose.
Smart voice assistants are becoming more popular, though they were once thought of as niche technologies.
For our part, we’ve had a lot of fun with both Amazon Alexa and Google Home.
There’s another major player in this industry – Siri, from Apple – but we’ve mostly found Alexa and Home to be superior.
That’s partially because most smart home products support integration with Alexa and Home, which uses Google Assistant.
That said, we’ve also found ourselves split in terms of which smart voice assistant is the best or most worthwhile: Alexa or Google Home? If you’ve found yourself in the same conundrum, read on; we’ll take a deeper, closer look at both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant’s Home devices.
Amazon Alexa – Overview
Amazon Alexa is the first and most widely used smart voice assistant on the market.
So it’s no surprise that it integrates with perhaps the biggest range of smart home devices and apps.
With Amazon Alexa, you can tackle shopping, package tracking, and search tasks without the use of your hands.
Alexa is further beneficial because it can be programmed to provide custom tasks or jobs.
Most importantly, Amazon Alexa devices are very easy to set up, and most of them offer phenomenal interconnectivity and audio quality.
Because Alexa is run by Amazon, it’s automatically compatible with tons of Amazon-owned brands, ranging from Fire TV to Ring doorbells to iRobots to Hue lights and more.
Amazon Alexa is available on a truly staggering collection of devices, many of which are some of our favorites.
These include the Echo series, which includes the very small Echo Dot, and the much larger Echo Studio.
Some of the most popular Alexa-enabled devices include:
- The Amazon Echo 4, a spherical device with a 3-inch woofer and dual tweeters
- The Amazon Echo Dot, a ball-shaped device similar to the Google Home Mini
- The Amazon Echo Show 10, which features an excellent HD display
- The Sonos One, a stellar device if you want to prioritize music
- The Fire TV Cube, which includes both a Fire TV streaming box and then Alexa speaker
Google Home – Overview
Google Home is the base of Google Assistant: the voice that comes out of Google-branded speakers and other products.
Here’s an analogy; Google Assistant is to Amazon Alexa as Google Home devices are to Amazon Echo devices.
In any case, Google Home does many of the same things as Amazon Alexa, though it has a few Google-specific twists to keep in mind.
For example, Google Home – and any queries you speak into Home devices – run on the Google search engine rather than Bing.
Perhaps because of this, Google Assistant is top tier when it comes to language recognition.
While it doesn’t work with as many smart devices compared to Amazon Alexa, you can still partner your Google Home devices with other smart home solutions, such as Philips Hue lights, Tado smart thermostats, and Nest surveillance cameras (which are owned by Google).
Don’t forget Chromecast streaming devices, either.
Google Assistant Devices
As with Alexa, you can purchase a wide variety of Google Assistant devices.
These start off as smaller speakers, like the Google Nest Mini, and go up to much larger devices, like the Google Nest Hub Max.
Some of the most popular Google Assistant devices include:
- Nest Audio, which replaced the original Google Home speaker. This is the latest Google Assistant smart speaker on the market
- The Google Nest Mini, a much smaller counterpart and the answer to the Amazon Echo Dot
- The Google Home Max, a heavy speaker meant for music and high-volumes
- The Google Chromecast, which comes with Google TV
- The Google Nest Cam IQ Indoor, a home security camera that also makes use of Google Assistant with a built-in microphone and speaker
- The Nvidia Shield TV, which runs on Android TV. This is a hybrid set-top box and console, and it doubles as a smart home computer
Detailed Comparison – Amazon Alexa vs. Google Home
At their core, both Amazon Alexa and Google Home devices do many of the same things, ranging from accepting voice commands to controlling smart home devices like thermostats to answering basic queries.
But there are some important differences to note.
Let’s dive deeper for a detailed comparison of Alexa vs. Google Home.
Smart displays are screens on many of the best smart voice assistant devices.
For example, on the Echo Show 5, you’ll see a basic 5-inch screen that displays key information, like the time.
Between both brands, Google Home smart displays are much better.
They’re easier to use, more fun to swipe through, and support a wider variety of streaming services compared to Alexa smart displays.
Furthermore, you can use Google Home smart displays to show photos from Google Earth or artwork whenever a given screen isn’t in use.
In contrast, Amazon Alexa’s smart devices feature smart displays that are (more often than not) less than stellar.
For example, the Echo Show 5’s smart display is very small and can’t be used for much more than telling the time.
Meanwhile, the Echo Show 15 boasts the largest Amazon smart display at 15.6 inches.
It’s great for wall mounting, but it’s still not as versatile or flexible as its Google counterpart.
All in all, if you want a smart voice assistant that you can use like a touchscreen, you’ll be better off with Google Home devices.
Winner: Google Home
For many, the best smart voice assistant will have excellent speakers from start to finish; after all, the majority of folks, us included, use smart voice assistants to get some music started hands-free while puttering around in the kitchen or doing other work.
The Amazon Echo smart speakers are some of the best in the business, bar none.
No matter which Echo smart device you choose, odds are you’ll immediately notice the truly top-tier audio quality produced by its speakers.
Even better, many of the Echo smart devices don’t break the bank.
You can also take advantage of the Sonos wireless speakers, which run on Amazon Alexa.
Some of the most popular smart speakers for Amazon Alexa compatibility include the Echo Flex – a smart speaker that plugs right into a wall outlet, enabling you to use Amazon Alexa from anywhere in the home – and the Echo Studio, a vibrant system that produces stereo-like sound and Dolby Atmos surround sound.
On the Google side of things, you’ll find a much smaller selection of smart speakers that work with Google Assistant.
For example, the Google Nest Mini has decent sound quality and can be wall-mounted, while the Nest Audio is much better than the miniature counterpart.
In any case, though, speakers compatible with Amazon Alexa usually produce better-quality sound across the board.
That, combined with more options, makes it clear to us that Amazon Alexa is the winner in this category.
Smart Home Compatibility
What’s the use of having and enjoying a smart home assistant if you can’t integrate it with your smart home solutions, like your smart thermostat, security cameras, and other devices?
In this regard, Amazon Alexa is clearly superior.
The initial Echo device with Alexa voice services launched in 2014, which was two years before Google Home entered the picture.
As a result, Alexa still supports more smart home devices compared to Google.
Even better, you can control Zigbee smart home devices using the Echo device of your choice.
In this way, you can much more easily automate your home with Amazon Alexa, doing everything from locking the doors to recording video footage to checking your calendar from afar.
This isn’t to say that Google Home is no use when it comes to smart home compatibility.
The Google Nest Hub, for example, as well as the Nest Hubcap Max and the Nest Wi-Fi, works with other smart home devices.
It’s just not as simple or easy to set up your smart home network with Google Home compared to Alexa.
While Alexa is a general winner in this category, there’s one area where both brands are relatively tied: smart home security.
Practically any smart home security system you can imagine works with Amazon Alexa and Google Home, so don’t worry about one brand being better for your peace of mind and the other.
Mobile App Control
Voice controls are certainly a nifty feature and a key part of this technology.
But from time to time, you’ll want to use a dedicated mobile app to control your Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa features, especially when it comes to customization.
Google Home’s mobile app is far superior in our eyes.
Why? It gives you quick, comprehensive access to your smart home devices with the touch of a few buttons.
All of the integrated devices connected to your Google Assistant are displayed on the app’s home screen, letting you quickly navigate to the one you want to use.
Even better, you can group devices by category or type; there’s no easier way to turn off all the lights in your home, set the thermostat, and lock the door all at once.
In contrast, Amazon Alexa doesn’t put all of your integrated smart home devices on one screen.
Instead, you have to navigate through distinct buckets and categorize your devices individually.
As a result, the Alexa app is a bit clunkier to use overall.
But on the positive side, Amazon Alexa’s app does include an Energy Dashboard, which tracks the energy consumption of individual devices.
While it’s not 100% accurate, it is a good way to see which devices are responsible for the biggest strains on your energy bill.
Still, when it comes to mobile app control, Google Home is the clear winner.
Winner: Google Home
Smart Home Routines
It’s one thing for your so-called smart home to let you turn off the lights with a voice command.
It’s another for your smart home to actually feel smart, and that’s accomplished through smart home routines: programmable commands or sequences that provide peace of mind and ultimate convenience.
Between Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, Alexa does a better job of letting you set and control smart home routines.
That’s because Alexa lets you both trigger actions and set reaction conditions for your smart home devices.
Google Assistant only lets you trigger actions, so it doesn’t react to smart home devices.
When you try to make a routine with the Alexa app, you can set the routine name, set when it happens, and add one of several potential actions.
That dictates to Alexa how you want the voice assistant to react to the action in question.
For instance, you can set Alexa to play a specific sound when your security sensor at the front door triggers.
Alexa will then tell you that the front door is open.
Google, by comparison, is much more simplistic.
You can only trigger actions from Google Home when you say specific voice commands or when you program triggers at specific times.
In other words, your smart home will feel much smarter with Amazon Alexa running in the background compared to Google Assistant.
As you pick between Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, you’ll want to know which provides the overall best voice controls.
In our eyes, the two brands are about equal, and that’s a good thing, given that voice control functionality is the core selling point of both smart assistants.
The big differences between Google and Alexa are how you are required to voice your questions and how Google and Alexa respond to those queries.
For example, you have to say “Hey Google” to trigger your Google Home devices.
Meanwhile, you have to say “Alexa” or some other preprogrammed name (Amazon offers dozens of choices) to trigger your Amazon smart devices.
As far as answers go, Amazon Alexa typically offers briefer, more concise answers.
Google provides more detail to your search queries.
This could be because of the search engines running behind both of these assistants; Google, of course, uses Google, while Alexa uses Microsoft’s Bing.
Our opinion? This category is the clearest tie in the comparison.
We weren’t very surprised when Google Assistant dominated the language translation aspect.
After all, Google Assistant runs on Google: the world’s best and most popular search engine. Alexa runs on Bing.
Google Assistant is truly impressive in terms of how quickly it can translate conversations between two distinct languages.
You can ask Google to speak in a certain language or to interpret dialogue for you.
Google’s interpreter mode supports many languages, and more are being added all the time.
You can use Google Assistant’s interpreter mode on smartphones and smart speakers at the time of this writing.
Alexa Live Translation is the answer to Google’s translating services.
Unfortunately, it currently only supports seven languages, including English, French, Spanish, and Italian.
Winner: Google Home
The best smart voice assistants provide excellent multitasking capabilities.
Google Assistant can simultaneously complete three actions at the same time with a single voice command.
We also like how easy this is to trigger; all you have to do is say “and” in between each individual command or request.
For instance, you can say, “Hey Google, turn off the lights and lock the front door.”
Alexa, meanwhile, requires you to make separate requests for each individual command you want to complete.
This can slow you down if you are trying to turn off your smart home devices while hurrying out the door.
Winner: Google Home
On the flip side, Amazon Alexa is much better when it comes to location triggers.
That’s because Alexa routines can trigger based on distinct locations – for instance, Alexa might detect when you roll your car into the garage, then start a distinct “welcome home” playlist on the speakers based on a preprogrammed condition.
Alexa also lets you add as many locations as you like to this functionality; just use the settings menu in the Amazon Alexa app.
Google Home doesn’t have anything nearly as robust or functional in this regard.
Dynamic Voice Tones
One of Alexa’s most recent updates was the ability to adopt and match different dynamic vocal tones.
In this way, Alexa can match the likely emotions or reactions in news articles, interactions, and more.
It can even tell if users are happy, sad, angry, or anything in between.
Note that while this feature is technically complete, your results will obviously vary.
For our part, we found that Amazon Alexa’s dynamic voice tones feature was accurate about 60% of the time.
That said, it’s still a neat element that Google Home completely lacks.
If you or a loved one are older and want smart home devices to support your lifestyle, Alexa has you covered.
Alexa Together is a new service for older adults.
This subscription-based service uses the Echo devices’ functionality as voice-activated medical alert tools – for instance, you can tell Echo to call 911 if you fall.
Google, unfortunately, doesn’t offer anything similar.
Therefore, if you want your smart voice assistant to help you in a medical emergency, Alexa is a much better pick.
Many folks, us included, use their smart voice assistants to whip up quick shopping lists on the go.
Google provides an overall better experience for this category.
For example, Google Assistant makes it quick and easy to build a shopping list and import it straight to your mobile device.
Google not only provides stellar images, but you can also look up specific items using pictures of products by snapping photos on your smartphone – talk about convenience!
Note that both Alexa and Google let you make shopping lists using voice commands.
But Google Assistant stores shopping lists on a dedicated website (shoppinglist.google.com).
It’s not the most intuitive solution, but it does make your list easily retrievable once you hit the grocery store.
Winner: Google Home
Recap & Summary: Amazon Alexa
To summarize, Amazon Alexa is a dynamic and versatile smart home assistant that works with many different devices and which integrates with far more smart home solutions compared to Google.
Alexa is a superior choice in terms of its senior features, location triggers, and smart home routine creation.
Put another way, Amazon Alexa is a better choice if you want a smart voice assistant that truly integrates with your other stuff, like your security cameras or your smart thermostat.
On the downside, Alexa is limited in that it can only respond to a single command at a time.
Furthermore, you can’t customize Alexa’s voice nearly as much as you can customize Google Assistant.
Recap & Summary: Google Home
Google Home is also a very worthwhile option in the smart voice assistant arena.
Google Home devices are good on their own, and Google Assistant is much better when it comes to multitasking, language translation, and smart home app functionality.
There’s also no denying that Google Home is a better pick if you mostly use your smart voice assistant for grocery shopping.
As noted above, you can customize Google Assistant much more than Alexa, picking between a whopping 10 primary assistant voices.
However, Google Home does have some cons, notably the fact that it doesn’t integrate with as many devices or smart home technologies as Amazon Alexa.
Furthermore, you can’t change the “wake word” for your Google Assistant devices; you’re forced to use “Hey Google” no matter what.
In Summary – Is Amazon Alexa or Google Home Best for You?
All in all, Amazon Alexa and Google Home are competitive, high-quality smart voice assistants.
In our opinion, you’ll be better off going with Alexa if you want a fully integrated voice assistant and don’t mind limitations in terms of multitasking.
However, Google Home is a better pick if you want a multitasking machine with superior language translation capabilities.
Truth be told, though, you’ll be well-off picking either of these two smart voice assistants.
To choose the best assistant for your home, consider what smart home devices you already have set up and go from there!
Was Amazon Alexa or Google Home first?
Amazon Alexa was created before Google Home, beating the latter by two years.
However, the two smart voice assistant services are now roughly equal, though some key differences remain.
Is it hard to set up Amazon Alexa or Google Home?
Both devices rely on you creating a branded account (like an Amazon account or Google account).
Once that’s done, syncing and integrating them with your other smart home devices is quick and easy, as it occurs over your home Wi-Fi network.