If you think of set up a smart home ecosystemconsider using it in harmony with some of the best smart speakers on the market. Alexa and Google Assistant dominate it with their Echo and Nest devices. However, if this is your first time using a smart speaker, you might not know which one is right for you.
In 2016, I went with Google Home speakers since I used Assistant on my phone and had a Chromecast. The choice seemed natural to me, and I was satisfied with the speakers. I’ve purchased many other Google and Nest products, including a Home Max, Nest Audio, Nest Mini, and two Nest Hubs.
However, these started to grow on me, not only because they periodically decide not to understand absolutely anything I tell them, but also because Amazon has been dub on Alexa devices and working on a bunch of new features for them.
After trying them out, I decided to switch to Alexa for several reasons. While I think Google Assistant is amazing, Alexa has some shortcomings. You will therefore need to evaluate which option works best with your ecosystem.
Smart home integration
Although one assistant had the advantage over the other in its early days, Google Assistant and Alexa are now compatible with an impressive number of devices and services. There is no real winner here. Since Google and Amazon aren’t exactly friends, their products don’t always work with the competitor’s digital assistant. For example, Ring and Blink cameras and doorbells aren’t supported on Nest Hubs and Chromecasts. Likewise, you can’t ask an Echo speaker to cast to a Chromecast. On top of that, both ecosystems are compatible with many third-party providers and can work together with a few manipulations.
There are some differences when using them with your smart home devices.
If you run near the kitchen to grab a spoon when it’s dark and ask Google Assistant to turn on the light, you might have time to go into the kitchen and grab what will eventually happen. turn out to be a fork, trip over something, and fall face down before the light comes on.
Things are faster with Alexa because she does what you ask in a split second. Even with Wi-Fi lights, which are known to be slightly less responsive than Zigbee lights, Alexa controls them instantly without having to wait for it to happen. Also, the difference between the two is that the assistant often confirms the action before starting, while Alexa says “OK” after the action is complete.
Speaking of Zigbee bulbs, Amazon has included a Zigbee hub in many of its smart home devices, including some Eero routers and Echo speakers. Thanks to this, you can connect compatible devices to your speaker without buying an additional hub. If you take the Hue lights as an example, this is particularly great because it saves you money and space because you don’t need the bridge.
Google doesn’t offer built-in Zigbee connectivity in its devices, so you need to buy an external hub and connect it to your Google account. This may change in the near future with matter.
Alexa and Assistant offer Routines that let you automate many things around the house by creating rules, triggers, and scenarios. Even though Google Home allows for a decent level of automation, its routines aren’t as efficient as Alexa’s.
Alexa lets you create customizable routines that can be combined with IFTTT for stunning results. For example, it can automatically detect when a window’s contact sensor is opened to pause the heater and turn it back on when closed. Likewise, it is more accurate and reliable than Google Assistant if you wish secure your home when you are awaywith triggers based on smart home devices, timers and complex actions.
Alexa and Google Assistant can integrate with various sensors to monitor your home’s temperature, humidity, oxygen, and carbon monoxide levels. These usually come from external devices, which means you have to purchase and configure them. However, just like its Blink cameras, Amazon recently equipped its fifth-generation Echo Dot with a built-in thermometer. This saves you from buying an external sensor, which can save you money if you have multiple rooms to monitor.
In addition to monitoring the indoor temperature wherever you are, having a built-in sensor lets you create complex Alexa routines based on the indoor temperature. For example, you can automatically turn on the heating when it’s too cold or automatically close the blinds and open the windows if it’s hot.
Amazon’s Eero routers are among the most recommendable due to their excellent performance and ease of use. Although relatively affordable, purchasing additional routers to complement your mesh network can be expensive. However, Amazon has integrated an Eero mesh satellite into its new Echo speakers, which means they can extend your Wi-Fi mesh network at no extra cost, as long as you have an Eero router. Existing fourth-generation speakers will be updated to deliver the feature, showing that Amazon isn’t neglecting its existing customers.
On the other hand, Google preferred to remove the built-in Nest Mini from its new Nest WiFi Pro router, even though the previous generation of Nest WiFi offered this combination.
For the best or for the worst
Compared to Assistant, things are better with Alexa, mainly because Amazon has worked hard to add new features over time, while Google hasn’t. The main difference is that Amazon worked on hardware improvements, releasing new devices frequently, while Google mainly focused on software improvements. Who knows how the math will change once the Matter smart home standard becomes more popular, but I’m willing to be Amazon will keep its edge.
Amazon’s anti-Google policy means its devices don’t work with Assistant, YouTube, Chromecast, and other Google services. This means that you cannot use Google services on Echo devices or cast from an Echo device to a Chromecast. You can still use a Fire TV natively with Alexa, but I find Google TV and Chromecast to be superior in this area.
The Alexa app doesn’t look good on mobile, and the Google app is more intuitive, so consider those things before making the switch, in addition to the price it will cost you. Alternatively, you can use a smart speaker that supports Google Assistant and Alexa to see if you like it. You won’t benefit from hardware options, but it’s a great way to make a smooth transition.