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Google Home Vs. Alexa: There Is A Clear Winner

10/03/2017 16:34

Which one is better, Google Home or Alexa? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Kartik Ayyar, engineer and entrepreneur, on Quora:

I have two Echoes and two Google Home devices.

First off, I think they are both fantastic devices. Your biggest loss is not getting either.

Echo has many more 3rd-party integrations available at present and has better support for some of my IOT devices and Audiobooks. Also, the Echo has Bluetooth support, Home is lacking in this feature, and I sometimes miss that.

There are two use cases for which the Echo is better for me:

  1. Most IOT integrations: Echo is great regarding its suitability for lots of home automation devices. Lights, thermostats, WiFi switches, you name it, the Echo probably supports it. Echo even has support for aging tech like WiFi power plugs.
  2. Excellent Audible integration: I have about a dozen audiobooks, and I'm continually buying more. The Audible integration on Echo is truly unique - you can say "read my last book," and can specify books, you can specify particular chapters, and you can pause and ask questions about what you are reading. If you are into audiobooks, the Echo is fantastic.

That said, if I had to pick one, Home was the standout winner for me for three reasons:

  1. Better media story: $10 for no YouTube ads plus music streaming is the best deal for me. I love YouTube Music. Music I listen to on YouTube is the most accurate reflection of music that I listen to. YouTube Red and YouTube Music are a fantastic value for $10 to have no ads plus have access to a music service that works across both a visual format plus audio only. When I tell Home to play music vs. telling Alexa to play music, there is a world of difference in just how well they understand me. I know people who swear by other streaming services, so their answers might be different. Both of them support other music services like Spotify, but I haven't used Spotify on either, so your mileage may vary.
  2. Far better query coverage: I like asking all sorts of long-tail questions, the kind of questions I would have typed into a Google search query. This search query is where Google Home is without parallel. Alexa doesn't understand the internet anywhere near as well as Home, and if you ask it a question like "Why did World War 2 start?" or "How did Putin come into power?" or "What was Carrie Fisher's cause of death?" Alexa suffers from the same fundamental flaw as Siri: if your question doesn't truly tap into one of its curated wall garden of data sources, its best response is a generic "sorry." The Home does this too, though it's far rarer for it to do so. In some cases, I've even had a Quora answer that was summarized and read aloud by Home.
  3. Better voice recognition: The Home has much better voice recognition for me. I have one Home in the bathroom and an Echo by my nightstand. I can be in bed, with the bathroom door partially shut, my head buried beneath a blanket, and if I have to count on one device to recognize me, it's Home. Voice recognition quality is the front door of voice activated speaker and even the slightest of changes in quality regarding which will understand you best can make a huge difference in satisfaction. As other answers have noted, "Alexa," is more natural to say, though in addition to "Okay Google," Home also supports "Hey Google" which is easier to utter.

So most of the time, I'll use Home, though I'll fall back to talking to my Echo for my older devices for home automation or audiobooks. Go try out both of them and pick whichever is best for your needs. Whichever you choose, they are worth the investment.

It's very early days in this space, and I can't wait to see how both of these devices will evolve over time, and in 10 years or so, it's going to be totally normal to have all sorts of conversations with devices around us.

Disclaimer: I work at Google but don't work on Google Home and don't write this in any official capacity for Google, merely as someone who has used both devices and equally appreciates both. The views I have expressed are not on behalf of my employer.

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