Smart digital assistants are growing in popularity, big time. In Canada, there’s really only two choices right now: Amazon Echo and Google Home.
Which smart speaker to pick?
Each brand has different versions of their assistants, usually a full size and a mini:
- Google Home
- Google Home Mini
- Amazon Echo
- Amazon Echo Dot
- Amazon Echo Plus
At their core, these smart speakers/digital assistants operate largely the same no matter which size you choose, so we’ll focus this comparison on the base models; the full size Echo and Home.
Google Home vs Amazon Echo: Who you talking to? Human or Robot?
Each of the home devices has a different Assistant personality:
Google has the Google Assistant, aka “Google”. Amazon has Alexa.
While both have female voices by default, Google Assistant has a more normal and natural sounding voice and delivery. Alexa’s delivery is rather robotic and vaguely European even though I’ve selected Canadian English as her voice.
Will one of those voices please you more than the other? Maybe. At the moment, my preference is for Google Home.
While you have some choice for accent changes with Alexa, for the moment you don’t with Google Home. Here’s how to do it:
To change your Google assistant’s voice:
Go to Google Home>Hamburger Menu>Settings or More Settings> Preferences> Assistant Voice.
To Change Alexa’s accent or voice:
Head to the Alexa app, select your device, then scroll down and select “Language”. In Canada your choices as of the posting of this article are English-UK, English-India, English-Canada, English-US and German. (As I understand it, if you’ve purchased the separate French Echo you may have other choices).
✅ Voice WINNER: Google Home
So how do you know which of these smart speakers is for you? Here are some of the other choices you’ll have to make when deciding between Google Home and Amazon Echo.
Do Google Home and Amazon Echo do the same tasks?
Yes. By and large these devices perform all the same basic functions:
- playing music (Google Play Music, Amazon Music, Spotify)
- answering questions
- setting timers
- controlling Smart Home gadgets like lights, thermostats, door locks and more
- telling you about your day; see more below
- getting news, weather and traffic info
- making conversions: money, measurements, time
- make phone calls
- look up phone numbers (and call them)
- add items to to-do lists and create reminders
- make calendar appointments; depending on your OS, see below
Want to know how to talk to Google Home and Philips Hue smart lights? Read the how-to here.
Where your choice might be made for you is in the things they don’t both do… read on.
✅ Tasks WINNER: tie
Google Home vs Amazon Echo: Are you Apple or Android?
Both Amazon Echo and and Google Home are compatible with many different smartphone platforms, including Android, Apple and more.
Google Home is definitely made to work closely with its own Pixel line of smartphones, and other Android phones and you may enjoy a more seamless experience if this is the platform you’ve got.
Surprisingly, you can still do a lot if you have an Apple iPhone. Some of the things you can’t do, however include asking Google Assistant to read your calendar.
Echo is more inclusive
As far as Amazon Echo goes, the device may seem to be geared towards the Android world, but again, there’s a lot you can do with your Apple iPhone.
Can Alexa link to Apple Calendar?
With Echo you can add your calendar to Alexa’s brain. She’ll integrate with Apple Calendar/iCloud, Microsoft Outlook and Office, plus the G-suite of apps and functions from Google. Want to hear about your day or list of appointments from your Apple calendar? Alexa will tell you.
✅ Compatibility WINNER: Amazon Echo
Google Home vs Amazon Echo: Smart home control
Both Home and Echo can control your smart home devices, and the list is pretty much universal, though if you’re wondering about controlling a specific smart home toy, it’s a good idea to check it. But when it comes to door locks, lights and thermostats, they’re both pretty much the same.
If I noticed any difference its that it’s much much easier to add a single new device to Echo. For example, when I wanted to add a single new LIFX light, with Google Home I need to uninstall and reinstall the whole LIFX lineup of several bulbs, whereas with Echo, I just add the one light and it works great.
✅ Smart Home WINNER: Amazon Echo
Google Home vs Amazon Echo: do you want to shop?
One advantage Echo has over Google Home is that you can order things from your amazon.ca account simply by asking.
This skill is actually quite convenient. I needed batteries recently and asked Alexa to order some, then promptly forgot about it until they arrived via 2-day shipping at my door. Awesome time saver.
Of course, you’re limited to hard and dry goods, mostly (as opposed to fresh groceries), but Amazon’s list of products is growing by the day.
So far, Google Home has no direct shopping function.
✅ Shopping WINNER: Amazon Echo
Google Home vs Amazon Echo: Music
Amazon Echo can access Amazon Music, Spotify and TuneIn Radio.
Google Home can utilize Google Play Music, Spotify, and Apple Music (when used with Apple devices only). So if you’re really attached to your Apple Music library, there’s only one choice for you here: get Google Home.
With that said, both Google Play and Amazon Music let you access a free version of the service that’s pretty great, actually. I’ve been running the free version of both on each of the Echo and Home and I’m more than happy with what I get, though the content is somewhat limited. Of course if you have Spotify, you can use that on either device, though you must have the premium account on Spotify to have it play properly over your smart speakers.
✅ Music WINNER: Google Home
Google Home vs Amazon Echo: instant intercom?
As far as I’m aware, there’s no built-in function for Google Home devices to talk to each other, whereas Echo devices can be set up as in-house (or cross-country!) intercom systems. Read more about that here on the blog.
✅ Intercom WINNER: Amazon Echo
Google Home vs Amazon Alexa: Price
Amazon Echo costs $129 CAD. Google Home is $179CAD. Given that Echo has more versatility and functionality, and it costs less, this battle goes to Alexa.
✅ Price WINNER: Amazon Echo
So who’s best? Amazon Echo or Google Home?
All things considered, Amazon Echo does more and is more versatile, speaking to different platforms and devices (not just Android) and it costs less.
If you’re looking for a smart home digital assistant and speaker to start out with Amazon Echo is the winner.
✅ OVERALL WINNER: Amazon Echo
Do you agree or disagree? Have any questions about what these devices can do? Ask in comments below.