April 15th, 2020

Amazon Echo vs. Google Home: which is the best smart home hub for you?

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Amazon Alexa Echo vs Google Home Assistant

So, you're building your dream smart home and kicking things off with one of the basic necessities: a smart home hub. But now you're trying to decide, how does Google Home compare to Amazon Echo? Well, it depends on your needs. But no worries, Asurion Experts help customers with their smart home tech care needs every day, and are here with what you need to know to help you make your decision.

Determining which is the best smart home hub can be tricky, since many of them offer the same capabilities, but they are not all created equal. Ultimately, the choice will come down to how you plan to use your home hub, and what features can help to make your life easier. Check out these comparisons between two of the more popular smart home hub options—Amazon Echo vs. Google Home—compiled by our experts.

What is a smart home hub?

A home hub is what connects and communicates with all the automated devices in your smart home—your smart cameras, smart thermostat, smart lights, etc. Think of your home hub, whether it be an Amazon Echo or Google Home, as the brain of your smart home that simplifies everything into one centralized platform.

Home hubs each have their own voice assistant to answer all of your requests and carry out commands—Amazon uses Alexa, Apple uses Siri, and Google has the Google Assistant.

Amazon Echo vs. Google Home: Voice commands

Arguably, one of best reasons to own a smart home hub is the ability to control your home's automated devices and have all of your questions answered, not by the switch of a button or tap on your keyboard, but by voice command alone. While both the Amazon Echo and Google Home line of products respond to voice controls, there are small differences between the two.

With the Google Home, there are limited "wake word" options—the voice command you use to activate your device's attention—and they're "Hey Google" or "Okay, Google." And you have to be pretty precise in the pronunciation, as you may recall if you've ever seen this video of an Italian grandmother learning to use her Google Home device.

Asurion Video

But with Amazon Echo, you have the choice between several options for your wake word. Being able to pick is a great feature, given that you can choose the word that is least likely to come up in conversation so your Echo device will only be alert when you want it to be. By saying, "Alexa, change the wake word," you'll be given the option to set your wake word as AlexaEchoAmazon or Computer.

What can Google Home do differently? One key thing to note is that Google Home tends to be more conversational with its voice command abilities than the Amazon Echo, and does better at comprehending the many ways you may say things. With Google, you can string similar questions together—for example, if you ask, "Hey Google, what team does Tom Brady play for?," you can follow up with something like, "What other teams has he played for?" And while all smart home hubs are capable of answering your many questions, studies have shown Google Home to be the winner when it comes to frequency of correct answers.

Amazon Echo vs. Google Home: Music

When smart speakers were new on the scene, streaming music was one of their first capabilities and it remains a feature today. If one of your desired uses for your smart home hub is to listen to music and podcasts, one of the main things you'll want to consider is compatibility with your favorite music services.

  • Amazon Echo and Google Home are both compatible with popular streaming services like Apple Music, Spotify and Pandora.
  • If you're a YouTube Premium subscriber, the Google Home will be your best choice for compatibility.
  • If an Audible subscriber or an Amazon Prime customer with access to Amazon Music, then an Amazon Echo device will let you experience the full potential of those services.

One feature that sets the two apart when it comes to listening to your favorites: while Amazon Music offers a wide array of music to Prime customers, the service used to allow users to upload their own music libraries, and unfortunately, this is no longer offered. That makes using Google's cloud with your Google Home Hub the better option for music enthusiasts who want to listen to their own audio collections that may not be found on streaming services through their smart devices.

Amazon Echo vs. Google Home: Online shopping

Since it's connected to Amazon's vast online store, it should be no surprise that the Amazon Echo has the slight edge for ease-of-use when it comes to shopping from your smart home hub. Ordering necessities through your Amazon account is as simple as saying, "Alexa, order toilet paper," or, "Alexa, order a 5 pound bulk bag of gummy bears."

With the Google Home, online shopping is still easy, but may require a few more steps. You can create a shopping list for your everyday essentials on your smart speaker or display (available in the U.S. only) at any time by saying, "Hey Google, add [product] to my shopping list." If you don't specify a store when ordering, it defaults to Google Shopping.

Amazon Echo vs. Google Home: Compatibility with other smart home devices

Both the Amazon Echo and Google Home can control a wide variety of smart home devices through voice command, and both work with popular smart home brands like Philips Hue smart lighting and Wemo Smart Plugs.

However, thanks to Alexa's library of over 100,000 skills that can do everything from ordering a pizza to setting up emergency alerts, Amazon Echo currently has a leg up on Google Home when it comes to support of third-party devices. But Google Home is quickly catching up. When you ask your Google Home Hub a command, Google Assistant may reply that he "doesn't know how to help with that yet"—"yet" is definitely the operative word to focus on.

Amazon Echo vs. Google Home: Devices with screens

Both Amazon and Google offer a screen-based version of their home hub. Currently, Amazon has the Echo Show and Google has the Nest Home Hub and the Nest Hub Max. The screens add an extra set of abilities to bring out the full potential of voice commands, like saying, "Hey Google, show me the back door" to get a real-time view from your security cameras. Here's an overview of smart home display options currently offered:

Amazon Echo Show

Amazon Echo Show features:

  • Offers 3 different touch screen options – 10" Echo Show 2, 5.5" Echo Show 5 and 8" Echo Show 8, which is the newest
  • Makes voice and video calls
  • Helps you stay up-to-date with weather reports, plays music, makes a to-do list, and gives answers to general questions
  • Shares videos from Hulu or Amazon Video
  • Controls your compatible connected home devices through voice commands, like home security camera footage or doorbell video

Google Nest Hub

Google Nest Hub features:

  • Offers two different touch screen options – 7" Google Nest Hub and 10" HD Google Nest Hub Max
  • Streams YouTube videos for hands-free help from the Google Assistant
  • Listens to music, audio books and podcasts through the speakers
  • Manages connected home from one dashboard
  • Stays on track with to-do lists, traffic reports, etc.
  • Has two built-in microphones for voice calling. The Google Nest Hub Max comes with a built-in Nest Cam and camera for video calls.
  • Can pair Nest Hub with Nest cameras to keep an eye on who's at the front door
  • Cool bonus: creates digital photo albums to enjoy

Keep all of these things in mind as you make the decision on which smart home hub is the best for you. Also, remember that Amazon and Google continue to update their smart home hub offerings regularly, so expect to see even more useful features to be introduced in the near future.

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