Alexa and Google Home: “Battle of Smart Assistants” 

Alexa: voice recognition, extensive smart home integration. Google Home: search capabilities, seamless integration with Google services.

There are several differences between Amazon Alexa and Google Home devices, so we love to try and test every voice assistant that is out in the market. Some features that we were interested in included voice control quality, smart home integration, music streaming capabilities, and the range and variety of available skills or actions.

When we compared Amazon Echo and Google Home, it allowed us to see a good cross-section of these features. Both devices offer voice-controlled volume and basic music player commands.

However, Amazon Alexa was able to understand and respond to more complex commands, such as specifying an exact volume level, skipping tracks or asking the device to play music from a specific genre.

Also, Amazon Alexa can be controlled using a smartphone app, a web interface, or the buttons mounted on the device itself.

However, Google Home’s smart home device management through the Google Home app for smartphones was much easier to use. Automatically detecting, setting up and connecting smart home devices using a smartphone’s location and the Google Home app’s discovery mode was simple.

Also, the process of assigning smart home devices, such as lighting, to different rooms in the house was a straightforward and quick process by using the floor plan of the house that can be drawn into the app.

Both devices offer a means to change the equalizer settings of the device to achieve the best audio quality for the location and acoustics of the room where the device is placed.

However, Google Home offers a touch-sensitive control allowing for a relatively simple and quick adjustment of the bass and treble settings, visually shown as two coloured bars on the top of the device.

Amazon Alexa’s bass and treble settings, accessed through the settings menu and then the ‘audio controls’ option, only offer a slider to adjust “voices and sound” and a drop-down box offering a limited number of preset equalizer configurations.

Smart home integration

Smart home integration can be done with Amazon Alexa by using its compatibility with leading home automation systems.

Amazon Alexa can be connected with WeMo, Philips Hue, SmartThings and Wink. Therefore, Alexa can use “Wink” to control and monitor around 200 smart home products including security systems, thermostats and door locks.

In addition to that, the colour-changing LED Smart bulbs by “Philips Hue” can be connected to Alexa to control lighting. For the gadget geeks,

Alexa can do more than just turn on-off lights or change lighting colours. By using Echo by Amazon, users can control Smart Home Devices from their “Wink” account on home gadgets or when they are away by using the “Wink” app on a Smartphone or smartwatch. Google Home on the other hand use Google Assistant to handle smart home gadgets.

Currently, Google Home works with several smart home product manufacturers including Nest, SmartThings, Philips Hue and IFTTT. With Google Home, users will be able to control home lighting, thermostats, wall plugs, power strips and many more.

Also, similar to Amazon Alexa, the compatibility between Google Home and these smart home product manufacturers will continue to grow every day. In addition, Google Home connects with equipment wirelessly using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and Chromecast.

However, one major setback of using Google Home is that it cannot be connected to any smart home hub devices, which means that Google Home will not receive signals from gadgets.

On the other hand, Amazon Echo can be used as a smart home controller or “hub”. This is important as smart home gadgets can communicate back and forth with the Amazon Echo by sending signals and acting based on the received signal.

Also, with a fast-growing list of more than 100 Smart Home devices that the Amazon Echo is compatible with, homeowners will have lots of gadget options to connect to the Amazon Echo.

Music streaming capabilities

Another area of great difference between Amazon Alexa and Google Home is in music streaming capabilities. Both smart speakers support many popular music streaming services, such as Spotify, Pandora, TuneIn and iHeartRadio.

However, Google Home, with the backing of Google, also allows you to stream music from Google Play Music – which just happens to be Google’s home-grown music streaming service.

Notably, you cannot stream music from YouTube on Google Home, while the feature is available with Alexa via other media players, for example, Fire TV. Alexa also provides personalised music recommendations and supports music libraries, as well as providing the feature to purchase music on the go.

Even though Google Assistant – the AI-powered virtual assistant built into Home – provides music recommendations, it does not allow for music libraries, so it lags in terms of providing a seamless service for music connoisseurs.

Echo (4th Gen) - Smart Home Hub with Alexa - Glacier White

This is the most popular smart-home device in our house. I see why. This is a cool device. It replaces your thermostat and it can be connected to your Wi-Fi and the Nest app, which allows you to control the temperature of your home from your phone.

By saying ‘Alexa, set the thermostat to 21 degrees’ to the Alexa Voice Remote that comes with your Amazon Fire Stick, you can have her do things like adjusting the temperature or switching off the lights without doing it manually or using your phone. I also intend to install a Ring Video Doorbell: Wi-Fi enabled. Video resolution 720P HD. Two-way talk. Infrared night vision. IFTTT compatible. Real-time motion-activated alerts. Alexa installation.

You also connect this one to Alexa, which means you can ask her to find out the last time your door was rung, by saying ‘Alexa, ask Ring, when was the last time the front doorbell was rung’.

Echo (4th Gen) – Smart Home Hub with Alexa – Glacier White Check Price

HomePod mini - Space Gray

The HomePod mini has a lot of cool features that make it stand out compared to other smart speakers on the market.

First up, the HomePod mini features Siri integration. You can ask Siri anything you want, from setting a timer for the oven to dimming your nearby smart home devices.

The HomePod mini also features high-quality sound that can be easily heard throughout the entire house or apartment. The full-range driver and dual passive radiators provide a room-filling sound experience with added bass. At the same time, the acoustic waveguide directs the sound out the bottom of the speaker, resulting in 360 degrees of sound to allow users to hear consistent sound no matter where they are with the smart speaker.

The HomePod mini features a three-microphone array which, along with Siri, allows for even more compact and high-quality sound despite its relatively small size.

Alongside high-quality sound and Siri integration, the HomePod mini operates as a command centre for your smart home. With the ability to control over 25,000 smart home devices, varying from light switches to garage openers, the HomePod mini allows you to manage your home from anywhere with features like Intercom and Adaptive EQ

HomePod mini – Space Gray Check Price

Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen) HD Smart Display with Motion and Alexa, Charcoal Black

It is important to note that the Echo Show 10 is a “hands free” device, meaning you don’t need to use your hands to operate it. This is designated by the graphic of a hand with a strike through it which will be in the top right corner of the screen. This sets it apart from similar Amazon products or smart home devices which you have to physically control.

This has a vast amount of benefits, particularly for disabled or elderly people who may struggle to use their hands to control technology. This makes the Amazon Echo Show 10 a fantastic product which is inclusive for everyone.

However, the screen of the Echo Show 10 is also a main feature and this is where the phrase “with motion” comes in when describing the product. The screen of the device will physically rotate so that it is facing you. For example, if you ask Alexa to open a recipe when you are cooking in the kitchen, the screen display will actually follow you as you move around.

With an extensive app, you can freely video chat on the screen even if the person you call doesn’t have an Echo device at all, simply by using the Amazon Alexa app and making a call through the contacts section.

As a standout new feature of the Echo Show, it has the ability to automatically tilt and rotate 175 degrees towards whoever is in front of the device, meaning whether you’re already in the middle of a video call and you’ve had to move to grab something from the oven, have to shuffle to the right slightly when searching for your favorite songs, or even when you’re just reading along to the myriad of audiobooks that Alexa can play, the Echo Show will follow and always be in line with you.

Overall the design is really sleek and I think it’s quite clever that they’ve managed to hide the speaker behind the screen itself. I also think the movement that the screen allows with the stand is quite innovative and unique on the market.

But having said that I do think that the Echo Show 10 is quite a bulky device and especially if you were to wall mount it, it would look a bit industrial and kind of disrupt the overall clean look of a modern kitchen.

Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen) HD Smart Display with Motion and Alexa, Charcoal Black Check Price

Google Nest Hub 2nd Gen - Smart Home Display with Google Assistant - Chalk"Google Nest Hub 2nd Gen" is a smart home display that comes with the "Google Assistant" feature. It is available in the color "Chalk".

The Google Nest Hub 2nd Gen does have several advantages. It has an interactive touch screen, a camera for video calling and a sleep tracking radar; besides, with the integrated voice control, the Google Nest Hub can be a helping hand for daily housework, for example, playing music, turning on lights or making a phone call with voice command.

With its 7-inch LCD, it is easier to see things at a glance, but the fantastic ambient EQ feature will automatically adjust the display to match the level of light in the room. This not only makes it more comfortable to look at any time of day but can also be beneficial in reducing light disturbance during the evening and night.

The display can also be set to show the time, personal photos from your Google Photos account, and other relevant information and updates.

For anyone who may want to switch off but has the Ambiance Mode showing, it is as simple as saying the words “Hey Google, switch off the display” which disables the screen without interrupting the connection or any music that may be playing.

Pressing the mute mic switch on the rear of the hub itself will stop any voice commands from being registered. Additionally, the hub has a built-in light sensor for auto-adjustment of the display brightness and colour.

Everything I have explained above can easily be changed in “Settings” so that the display can be in an “always on” mode or even set to a specific screen of choice as the default display when not in use.

You can join most of your beloved streaming services to the hub, from audio players like Spotify to movie cyclopes like YouTube. Not to cite the hub comes furnished with a built-in full-range loudspeaker so you can hum along to your favourite numbers or embrace in a spot of karaoke on the guard.

Google Nest Hub 2nd Gen – Smart Home Display with Google Assistant – Chalk Check Price

Google Nest Audio - Smart Speaker with Google Assistant - Chalk

It has a really big sound – with 75% more volume, 50% stronger bass, and fullness you can feel. I feel the fullness! Inside the Nest Audio, we have a 75 mm woofer and 19 mm tweeter.

Better sound performance by the woofer and clear high notes by the tweeter. Moreover, the speaker is also using a fancy technology called “Focused Music EQ”. So, the sound will automatically adapt to whatever you are listening to and I find music and podcasts sound as the way they are made.

Well, it uses a big brain – which is the onboard machine learning chip to continuously adapt the tuning automatically.

Last but not least, Nest Audio can also sense the background noise of your home – whether it is the sound of a vacuum cleaner, TV, an oven fan, rainfall or noise from outside and then it can also make adjustments to the media’s audio on the fly to make the audio clearer. All of this fancy technology is called “Media EQ” – or the big brain in the machine learning chip.

It is also possible to play music on your Google Nest Audio speakers in sync and throughout multiple rooms.

You can choose to play music on your Google Nest Audio in a single room, as a stereo pair (when set up) in the same room, or in a group of rooms that have compatible speakers. This feature is called multi-room audio.

Google Nest Audio – Smart Speaker with Google Assistant – Chalk Check Price

Google Nest Hub Max - Chalk

One of the cool things about the camera of Nest Hub Max is that during a video call, the camera automatically adjusts its zoom and panning so that the user is always visible within the frame.

This means that you can have a hands-free video call more easily since the camera will take care of focusing on the action as needed. Also, the 6.5MP camera on Nest Hub Max provides a really clear and sharp image during the video call.

Plus, the 127-degree field of view is very impressive as it can allow even small groups of people sitting in front of the device to be in the frame during the video call. Last but not least, during a video call, Google Nest Hub Max can also use its machine learning software to keep the images stable and smooth, even if the user is walking around.

This is because the device will improve the call experience by using software programming to select the visual content that is to be transmitted to the receiver. All of these smart camera features make video calls a fantastic experience with Google Nest Hub Max and distinguish it from other smart displays in the market.

Another outstanding feature of Google Nest Hub Max and Google Nest devices is that when you link smart home devices to the Google Assistant which is known as a Voice control partner also then the smart home devices will be able to control by using the Voice control feature of Google Nest Hub Max. Hence, you can get the benefits of controlling all supported smart home devices in one place by using the Google Nest Hub Max. That is great to have all control centrally.

Google Nest Hub Max – Chalk Check Price

Voice recognition capabilities

When it comes to recognising voices, both assistants do not disappoint. Firstly in terms of security, both Alexa and Google Home can differentiate your voice from others, and this means they can provide a more personalised experience.

For instance, you will be able to ask Alexa to read out your messages, and providing it recognises your voice, anyone else within earshot won’t be able to hear your messages read out.

This is a key advantage of these voice recognition capabilities, and the ability of the devices to differentiate between voices has clear advantages.

However, when it comes to the depth of personalisation, it is Google Home that comes out on top. Google Home can store up to six different users and tailor search results and other data to a specific user. This means that Google Home can provide a more tailored and personalised experience compared to Alexa, and this deeper level of personalisation can become an important advantage for the device in the future.

Thanks to Voice Match features, Google Home can even link a specific user with their Google account, meaning that calendar entries, reminders and other personal data can be accessed in a device set to recognise a specific user.

By comparison, while Alexa can differentiate voices, it doesn’t offer the same extent of personalisation that Google Home can. On top of that, Google Home allows users to access their own YouTube accounts, while Alexa only allows users to link one account.

This means that personalised audio and video content can be accessed via Google Home, which provides an additional layer of the personalisation benefit. Moreover, Google Home offers a more personal, tailored experience due to the depth of personalisation of the voice recognition capabilities.

While Alexa can differentiate voices – and provide security benefits from this – it doesn’t offer the same extent of personalisation in a modern connected world.

Control smart home systems

Both the Amazon Alexa and the Google Home are designed to control smart home systems. Alexa works with many smart home systems directly, as well as with If Then That (IFTTT) which can allow it to work with even more systems.

Google offers a list of around 75 different smart home systems that are currently in the process of being made compatible with Google Home, so it’s likely that its capability will expand shortly.

After connecting a smart home device to the Google Home application, a nickname has to be assigned to the device. This is the name that will be used to control the device with your voice.

The Google Home uses the location specified by your home address on the Google app to control nearby devices; for example, saying ‘turn the lights on’ will turn on the lights that are specified as being in your home address.

Overall, both Alexa and Google Home can provide smart home users with more efficient and advanced controls for their home systems through voice activation. Both devices have a growing list of compatible smart home systems and can make your life a lot easier through features like controlling multiple devices at once and more complex automation.

Bass performance

When gauging sound quality in smart speakers, one of the most crucial aspects to focus on is the bass performance. Both speakers fared well in this category, but Google Home undoubtedly performed better.

The bass was deeper and had more resonance. This is mainly because the Google Home houses a 3-inch driver, which is bigger than the 2.5-inch driver that the Amazon Echo has.

The larger driver in the Google Home will be more effective in pushing more air and producing better sound. In addition to this, the bass sound of the Google Home was not affected at high volumes, unlike with the Amazon Echo.

The Alexa’s bass is supposed to offer a warmer, more rich sound. Bass lines and kick drums in music are more prominent and heavy.

However, the Google Home equaliser seems to offer a heavier bass response. The actual bass sound through Google Home, while being deeper, seems to provide a rougher experience.

The Google Home seems to slightly vibrate and make the desk it is on and the air around it shake more than Alexa which would seem to suggest the Google Home produces the deeper bass.

The bass speakers in the Google Home point downwards, projecting the sound into whatever the actual smart speaker is resting on. This differs from the upward-firing bass of the Alexa. Quite conveniently, the equaliser for the bass in Google Home is adjustable.

This makes the sound changes noticeable and satisfies the user’s needs more when the sound output can be adjusted. This hands-on guide refers often to the audio settings of the Google Home application when suggesting ways to improve the bass

Clarity of vocals

Both Google Home and Amazon Echo give the human voice a wider range of tones so that the lower and higher chords do not seem squashed.

In the mid and high pitches, Google Home succeeds in producing a much wider variety of notes. However, especially in the section when the first singer’s vocals fade out from a high pitch, the Amazon Echo seems to convey the changing pitches more accurately.

This suggests that the Google Home speaker emphasizes and boosts the depth rather than the clarity of vocals. This could be because the mid-tones produced by Google Home are generally quite powerful, and the lower and higher tones have to match this dominance.

On the other hand, the Amazon Echo has a more even level of volume across the different tones, with the mid pitches less overpowering.

As a result, there seems to be a truer representation of the changing pitches in the song, so that the fading out of the first singer’s vocals is more pronounced. However, when the vocals are being sung in a higher range, the general power of the mid tones in the Google Home can be slightly overwhelming; in this case, the Amazon Echo

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“Amazon Alexa and Google Home had a heated argument. Alexa said, ‘I can order pizza for you.’ Google Home replied, ‘I can tell you how to make it from scratch.”

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