Question

Alexa or Google Home?

  • 19 November 2017
  • 11 replies
  • 36321 views

I'm considering buying either an Amazon Alexa product or a Google Home product, but can't quite decide. I'll probably go with either an Echo Dot or a Google Home mini, as we're pretty invested in Sonos. We don't need a new music system, but a way to control what we have by voice is appealing. I know the Echo Dot will work with Sonos now, and presumably the Google Home Mini will work with Sonos in the near future (or am I wrong?).

We're an Android ecosystem family, we use Google Calendars, Chromecast etc. But, the music streaming service we do use is Amazon music, just to complicate things! I'd like opinions on which is the best smart home product to buy. How do they actually control Sonos? My ideal scenario is that we can control our Sonos system using Google Home mini, but tell it to stream songs from Amazon music, as we currently do with the Sonos app. Is that likely to be possible whenever Sonos actually works with Google Home mini? I'm willing to wait for that, but if that's not possible I do wonder if I should just go for the Echo Dot, no wait for music control needed. Are the smart home products just an alternative to using the Sonos app, so the full functionality of Sonos is available? Or is the streaming service one can use somehow dependant on the smart home device that's used? Am I making sense?! Thanks for any help you can give. I know it's not a massive purchase, but I'd rather not make the wrong decision and need to switch systems shortly.

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11 replies

Purchased the Echo in late 2014 as got into the preview. Memorized the commands and used it but my family never really engaged. Then last year purchased a Google Home and my family would engage and use it so purchased a couple more. The Echo remained "my toy".

The big difference is the Google Home supports natural language. Which means you can talk to it more like you would to a human. Versus the Echo uses something closer to commands. So for music there is a command of "Play the song that goes ..." vs with the Google Home just way whatever you have and it will figure it out and it is really smart at figuring it out.

So now when my family or friends ask we recommend the Google Home over the Echo without hesitation.

BTW, the big thing to consider is that Google is also on the phone. So when I was coming home last Friday evening and needed to turn around my family really quickly as we had an appointment with a tight time table. I just said to my phone "ok google broadcast be on the porch now" and it played throughout our home on the Google Homes. We executed a record breaking turnaround when I arrived.

So having a common assistant on your phone and home has a lot of value.
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Sonos has stated that they plan on doing an integration with Google Home. We don't have any information on dates of functionality of that integration. I personally don't have the Google Home, so can't speak to how well it works or all it's features. I know it works with chromecast and can handle your calendar.

As for the integration of Sonos with Echo, that is currently in beta. It works, but there are some limitations. As you thought, you cannot do everything with Alexa that you can do directly through the Sonos app. You can play anything that Alexa can do natively, so that means Amazon music, Pandora, SiriusXM, iHeart, and TuneIn. Spotify is coming soon. If you primarily use Amazon than you are set. You can do basics like control volume and pause. You can't do any grouping features.

FYI, Alexa is also available on your phone through the Amazon music app. Probably not as convient or useful as Google is, but it's there. I have used it to do smart home type things, not for communication with family. You should be able to leave messages as the poster above suggested.

I actually had purchased several dots and had my Sonos before the integration, so there were no decisions for me. I also use Amazon music a lot, so I have had little heartburn over missing features. That said, I can't say that the Google integration won't be better. Google may want to add a lot more features to put pressure on Amazon, who knows.

I'm seriously thinking about getting a Google Home Mini with the black Friday pricing going on. I doubt I'd ever replace Alexa, but a part of me wants to compare and contrast the two properly. If one of them does anything way better then the other, I don't know that I'd have too much of an issue with both systems in the house.
I spent hours researching which to buy and think, both Google Home and Echo are good. The research frustrated me, so I built a calculator to custom report to a person which device is the best for THEIR needs. I posted it online if anyone wants to use it.
http://www.thetechbeacon.com/index.php/techfitters/google-home-vs-amazon-echo
I spent hours researching which to buy and think, both Google Home and Echo are good. The research frustrated me, so I built a calculator to custom report to a person which device is the best for THEIR needs. I posted it online if anyone wants to use it.
http://www.thetechbeacon.com/index.php/techfitters/google-home-vs-amazon-echo


I tried your calculator and while it is pretty nice, it seems that it is out of date. Ecobee now works with Google Home and Echo can be used as an intercom. In terms of smart devices, Sonos is not listed at all.
I spent hours researching which to buy and think, both Google Home and Echo are good. The research frustrated me, so I built a calculator to custom report to a person which device is the best for THEIR needs. I posted it online if anyone wants to use it.
http://www.thetechbeacon.com/index.php/techfitters/google-home-vs-amazon-echo


That is an excellent comparison tool, good job! Of course the competition is intense between Google and Amazon so changes will continue to happen at lightning speed which means you will need to update this on a regular basis. Some suggestions might be:

Do you want to display lyrics as your song is playing? (Echo Show and Spot)
Do you want to make announcements like "time for dinner" through all of your speakers? (Google Home)
Do you want your digital assistant to respond through a high fidelity speaker? (Echo via Sonos One, Google Home Max)

I hope you decide to update this from time to time because it is really a useful tool!
MyHkeyisbroken: thanks for noting that, I will verify those details and update the calculator. If you do the "Which Echo?" test, it will generate Sonos as option. I'd be curious if you think the results of that accurately portray Sonos?

I spent hours researching which to buy and think, both Google Home and Echo are good. The research frustrated me, so I built a calculator to custom report to a person which device is the best for THEIR needs. I posted it online if anyone wants to use it.
http://www.thetechbeacon.com/index.php/techfitters/google-home-vs-amazon-echo


I tried your calculator and while it is pretty nice, it seems that it is out of date. Ecobee now works with Google Home and Echo can be used as an intercom. In terms of smart devices, Sonos is not listed at all.
upstatemike: Your kind words just made my day! You are right there are going to be a lot of changes, but I'm going to TRY to keep the questions/logic updated. I like to keep up with new technology, so will enjoy the learning part. I do have a question about the announcements "I want to place several assistants throughout the house and use them as an intercom system." The Sonos and Google Home Max will generate if you take the "Which Echo?" or "Which Google Home?" quiz...in other words, whether you go with Echo or GH, either choice can result in a high fidelity speaker...Sonos or Max. So that was my thinking in putting hi-fi info in the secondary test.

I hadn't thought of the lyrics! It is encouraging to know that it is helpful (it took a LOT of work)...so that will inspire me to keep it updated! 🙂 Thank you again for the feedback!

I spent hours researching which to buy and think, both Google Home and Echo are good. The research frustrated me, so I built a calculator to custom report to a person which device is the best for THEIR needs. I posted it online if anyone wants to use it.
http://www.thetechbeacon.com/index.php/techfitters/google-home-vs-amazon-echo


That is an excellent comparison tool, good job! Of course the competition is intense between Google and Amazon so changes will continue to happen at lightning speed which means you will need to update this on a regular basis. Some suggestions might be:

Do you want to display lyrics as your song is playing? (Echo Show and Spot)
Do you want to make announcements like "time for dinner" through all of your speakers? (Google Home)
Do you want your digital assistant to respond through a high fidelity speaker? (Echo via Sonos One, Google Home Max)

I hope you decide to update this from time to time because it is really a useful tool!
Just to clarify intercom and announcements are two different things. I love that I can use drop-in with Alexa to call any room or I can call all rooms and someone can answer from any of them. But only Google can currently send an announcement that plays on all speakers at the same time without the requirement for anybody to answer. This is a huge feature that I hope Amazon will copy soon but for now is a clear Google advantage.
I spent hours researching which to buy and think, both Google Home and Echo are good. The research frustrated me, so I built a calculator to custom report to a person which device is the best for THEIR needs. I posted it online if anyone wants to use it.
http://www.thetechbeacon.com/index.php/techfitters/google-home-vs-amazon-echo


This is slick.

You may want to update though. I just received an email from Insteon stating that they are compatible with Google Home now (which is awesome - for a while there I thought Insteon was going the way of Apple Homekit).
Thank you for the tip! I am in the process of updating the smart home definitions this week and will make a point of verifying this one.
jarodhart, I have updated the calculator to include Apple HomePod and Microsoft Invoke (as well as Google Home and Amazon Echo which were there before). I ended up removing the home control device list, because (1) most of them are compatible with GH and AE and (2) there are SO MANY new brands that have been added that it isn't realistic for a user to dig through a list that big. Appreciate your feedback!
http://www.thetechbeacon.com/index.php/techfitters/google-home-vs-amazon-echo