Alexa and Google Home are both top voice-control platforms but what’s the difference between them?
In just a few short years, virtual assistant technology in homes has come leaps and bounds. What started as support playing music soon evolved to doing our washing for us and tucking us in at night by switching off the lights and reading a story or playing soft music to lull us to sleep.
Alexa and Google Home are both at the top of their game and are found in millions of homes.
But what is the difference between Alexa and Google Home? While they can perform many of the same basic functions, each has its pros and cons and many of these depend on what music service and appliances are in your home now.
Alexa vs Google Home
Let’s look at how each one operates and their standard features and then dive into what sets them apart.
Alexa – Amazon’s Virtual Assistant
Alexa is Amazon’s virtual assistant technology which was first launched alongside the Amazon Echo speakers. Out of the box, users can command Alexa by voice to play music, make to-do lists, stream podcasts, play audiobooks, set alarms, look up information and news on the internet.
On top of these pre-set functions, Alexa can also be programmed to use third-party skills. These can include anything from local weather updates to specific children’s entertainment.
There are multiple devices that can connect to the Alexa assistant, including smart speakers, TVs and media boxes, phones, tablets, laptops, smart homes, wearables, and earphones. Users will say a designated “wake word” before a command, the default being “Alexa”.
Google Home – Uses Google Assistant technology
Google Home is a line of smart speakers that was developed by Google to use with the Google Assistant AI technology. Google is releasing new smart speakers under the name of Google Nest.
Out of the box, users can ask Google Home to play music, look up information and news online, play audiobooks, set alarms, manage tasks, control smart home devices, make to-do lists, and more.
Users activate Google Home by saying “OK Google” then following this with the command they want the virtual assistant to perform.
Google Home can control more than 1,500 smart home products so you can ask it to turn on your microwave, turn up the lights, and switch off the TV.
Google Home vs Alexa – how can they help?
Here we’ll look at common functionality that people use these voice assistants for and what the differences are between Alexa vs Google Home.
Reliability and consistency
How do these brands stack up when it comes to voice recognition? Obviously, if you’re going to be speaking commands this is one of the biggest factors to consider.
Given that both Alexa and Google Assistant technologies have been around for years they have come a long way and seen constant improvements with each new release.
You wouldn’t have too many problems with either once you learn the tricks and get used to communicating with it in the way it prefers.
Having said that, Google’s Voice Match really gives it an advantage. It allows for a more tailored experience for each person in the household.
The idea is that Google Assistant recognizes each user and even on a shared device the assistant will offer personalized music, TV, and audiobook services by remembering preferences.
On the other hand, Alexa only offers personalized shopping, limited media options, calling, and messaging. However, Alexa has Guest Connect so you can access your own data and preferences on a friend’s Echo device.
Making phone calls
Both will allow you to place phone calls through your smart speakers. You can call phone numbers in the US and Canada with Google Assistant (Home).
With Alexa, you can call numbers in the US, Canada, and Mexico, just not toll-free phone numbers.
Music and audio services
This is still one of the most widely used services of any virtual assistant. Not only can you skip a song hands-free but mute or raise the volume in a second.
This is an area where each assistant will defer to their respective company’s music services, as you may expect.
Here are some of the top music services and whether they function on Google vs Alexa:
|Music Service||Google Assistant||Alexa|
|Google Play Music||Yes||No|
As you would expect, Alexa will allow you to order products from Amazon. Once you have asked to order a product, Alexa will check your buying history and give you suggestions based on any of these orders first.
If you haven’t ordered anything similar previously, Alexa will call out options including the price that you can decline or accept.
Google Assistant will also allow you to shop via Google Home, for any items that cost between $3.99 and $100 (pre-tax). The limit is to stop accidental orders when you are using voice commands and can’t see what you’re ordering.
You can order from Costco, PetSmart, Walgreens, Payless, Guitar Center, Road Runner Sports, Kohl’s, L’Occitane, Sur La Table, Whole Foods, and Ulta.
Additionally, you can also order from Walmart using Alexa or Google Assistant through its own voice shopping service called Walmart Voice.
Privacy of recordings
By default, Google protects your recordings. Amazon, as the developer of Alexa, is the opposite. The default settings allow employees to listen to your recordings but you can opt-out.
Additional features and functionality
When comparing Alexa vs Google Home when it comes to extra skills, most agree that Alexa is the winner here. In fact, Alexa can perform 17 times as many as Google actions. However, both are stronger in different categories.
Alexa’s top-rated areas are education and reference, lifestyle, music and radio, and games and trivia.
Google Assistant’s top-rated areas are games and fun, education and reference, smart home, sports, arts and lifestyle, weather, productivity, and business and finance.
Another area of expertise for Google Home is travel and transportation because it has the advantage of using Google Maps.
Price : Alexa vs Google Home Mini
One final, but big consideration when purchasing technology, is comparing the costs. We’ll look at the associated smart speakers since this is the most popular way to connect to voice assistants and they are cheaper than other devices such as smart displays.
The good news is they start at virtually the same price. The latest Google Home speaker is now the Google Nest line and the cheapest device is the Google Nest Mini which comes in at $49.00.
The Echo Dot from Amazon Alexa comes in at $49.99. With less than $1 difference between Alexa vs Google Home, it’s negligible and probably not going to be the deciding factor.
Of course, this is the basic setup. If you want multiple speakers throughout your house and additional appliances to connect, the costs will be much greater.
There are also better quality speakers that both Google and Amazon offer to connect to their respective virtual assistants and the price increases to reflect this.
If you’re planning on buying a smart speaker so that a virtual assistant can make your life simpler, both of these are great options.
The main things to consider are connectivity to your current virtual setup: if you have smart appliances check that they are compatible and think about the music services you use because they don’t all work across both platforms.
Winner: Google Home and Amazon Echo
Both Google Home and Alexa have a lot of small differences but both of them are almost equal as far as performance is concerned.
Google Home is better when it comes to understanding things without any specific commands. However, the decision is all upto you and what device integrates better with your smart home systems.
If you are Prime subscriber, Amazon Echo can be a good choice for you.
Taking all the skills of Google Home and Alexa into consideration, Amazon’s Alexa is the clear winner here.
Now you already know that Alexa is the winner, when we compare Alexa and Google Home. Google Home is a bit expensive and can’t perform all the skills that Alexa does.
However, Google Home is updating with each passing day and it might surpass Alexa one day. If you are a Nest owner, get a Google Home hub otherwise Alexa is always available for you on Amazon.
You can also check our article on Ring vs Nest, if you are confused which device to buy for your home.