Since personal computers started making their way into homes almost three decades ago, we have all been dreaming about the days when everything in our homes will be completely automated. We've been waiting for the day when our homes will respond to the sound of our voices, and thanks to some recent releases from Amazon and Google, that time has finally come.
Amazon and Google have both released home assistants that are able to combine the wifi in our homes with a broad range of voice commands to respond to all kinds of different requests. But choosing which one is the best fit for your home is easier said than done.
If you are intrigued by home assistants but not sure which one best fits your circumstances, we took both of the popular options out for a test drive and are ready to report on the results.
Amazon's Echo (Alexa)
Alexa is the name of Amazon's home assistant, but in order to communicate with her, you need to purchase one of their Echo products. The base model Echo is the most commonly purchased product, but they have recently released a smaller (and cheaper) version called the Echo Dot that plugs into your existing speakers to communicate with you.
No matter which Echo product you choose to go with, Alexa can use it to interact with your Pandora and Spotify accounts, as well as access just about everything you might want to do from the Amazon website or app. Need to reorder some toilet paper? Just tell Alexa, and she'll take care of it.
In addition to the power of having the entire Amazon catalog at the tip of your tongue, Alexa is also able to integrate with an astounding number of smart home devices, making it the far superior home assistant right now.
Much like Amazon's Echo, Google Home is a sleek looking home assistant that can integrate seamlessly with your Pandora and Spotify accounts. However, it falls far short of Alexa's abilities to network with a wide range of other devices, and it also lacks the ability to order products through your Amazon account.
There is no denying that Google Home isn't quite on the level of the Amazon Echo products quite yet, but they do offer one feature that the Amazon products don't: multi-speaker music. Using the combination of Google Home and Google's Chromecast Audio devices, you can use voice commands to play music from your favorite service onto any speaker in the house that is hooked into your Google Home network.
In addition to having the ability to stream music to an unlimited number of speakers around your house, Google Home is also a Google product. So while it doesn't have the ability to integrate with your Gmail and Google Calendar quite yet, there is no doubt that those features and many more are right around the corner. And in the long run, it would be foolish for Amazon not to allow Google Home to place orders just like Alexa does.
After spending some time playing with both options, there is no doubt that the Amazon Echo series is the better product today, especially if your primary concern is ordering from Amazon using voice commands. But if you are more interested in multi-speaker streaming or future integrations with email and calendar services, we think Google Home might be the better long-term bet.
Regardless of which Home Assistant you decide to invest in, we found that both exceed expectations, they just do so in slightly different ways. Once you give either one a try, you will instantly wonder how you ever lived without your new assistant!