Google Home invites some clear comparisons to the Alexa Echo, what with the similar smart assistant that can play music, read out the news and weather and take charge of your smart home. But those are some surface level similarities. For starters, Google Home is around $50 cheaper than the Echo, and you can customize it further, coming in grey, orange, purple and teal fabric, as well as metal versions in black, white and copper.
The device certainly has an engaging design, even if it does bear more than a passing resemblance to an air freshener. The overall look however, is clean and sleek, and with the customizable bases the Home allows you to play with color. It’s pretty easy to set up as well, and can be ready for use within mere minutes. It’s easy to integrate Google Home with both iOS and Android, and the home itself is helped along by the conversational Google Assistant.
Google Home is also better than the Alexa Echo at providing more accurate and detailed answers, thanks to its in-depth knowledge graph. While the device gives off a bit of a formal feel, it does come packed with a personality honed by writers from the Onion and Pixar. However, unlike the Alexa, this personality can come across as forced at times. Also, it can only link to one account at a time, and doesn’t have the capability to switch between profiles. This means you can’t personalize Google Home for multiple family members – it’ll always only respond to one person and their calendar and music playlists.
Google Home can control smart-home devices like Phillips Hue Bulbs and SmartThings Devices. (Phillips Hue and SmartThings are two of its fourhome launch partners, the other two being Nest and IFTTT). It can also stream content directly to your TV through Chromecast. Music apps, of course, have a strong focus on them, and the Home supports Google Play Music, Spotify, Pandora and YouTube Music, whilst allowing the user to select a default player. It’s also able to handle files with punctuation in the filenames. The sound has a heavy emphasis on bass, and can completely fill up a room if placed in a corner. However, the Alexa is observed to have a cleaner sound.
On the privacy front, the Home only records what you say after it has been activated with a tap or by using wake words like “Hey, Google”. And it lets you know when it’s listening in on you by lighting up. Plus, users can mute the Home to prevent it from listening for a wake word entirely, and can also go over their search history to delete a query or the entire history altogether.
Google Home faces limitations in terms of third party apps and skills, however. Compared to the Alexa’s plethora of 3000 skills, it fares poorly, but then, it is a newer device than the 2 year old Echo. With more software updates and third party integration, this should have quite the bright future in front of it.