Amazon Alexa vs. Google Home: Which Smart Home Ecosystem Is Best?

google home vs alexa
Courtesy of Amazon, Best Buy

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Choosing a smart home system is overwhelming, to say the least. Between all the different offerings (whether it’s a smart speaker or a smart display), you’re decidedly tethering yourself to one specific ecosystem. After all, it’s likely you won’t stop with one smart device, and it’s a hassle to change horses mid-stream as you continue to build out the rest of the offerings.

To help you figure out which direction you should go, we put the two biggest smart home providers (Google and Amazon) in a head-to-head battle across four different categories to determine the winner:

  • Design: How does each device look?
  • Features: How does each device work? What abilities are exclusive to each brand?
  • Privacy: With smart devices in your home, how do they effectively protect you and your privacy?
  • Cost: How much will this cost you?

Let’s dive in and see who ends up on top in the smart home ecosystem fight of the century!

  

Design

Looks aren’t everything, but they are still important. When it comes to how a Google Home or Amazon Alexa device will fit into your home, it is important to consider the aesthetics of both devices. Both the Google Nest Mini and the Amazon Echo Dot are similar in their respective designs; the Dot takes up more horizontal space, extended upward like, well, an actual dot. Meanwhile, the Nest Mini is more puck-shaped in its construction, with the mesh laying flat across the top of the device.

Smart speakers like the Echo Studio and the Nest Audio are fundamentally the same (i.e. taller and thicker speakers), but the Echo Studio takes up more space because it offers higher quality audio fidelity thanks to Dolby Atmos and 3D sound. The Nest Audio is more akin to a portable Bluetooth-style speaker.

The video devices offered by both companies are pretty similar as well; the displays provided by both companies are anchored by either a stand or a speaker. The one place where Amazon stands out (for now) is with its new Echo Show 15, which is currently unmatched by Google (although we anticipate it’s just a matter of time).

When it comes to selecting a winner, we’re going to go with personal preference here and say that Google is the winner, as its devices (insofar as a smart home device can) don’t draw a ton of attention to themselves, opting for a less noticeable approach.

Winner: Google

Google Nest Mini Smart Speaker

Google Nest Mini Smart Speaker Courtesy of Best Buy

  

Features

While Google gets major points for having built-in integrations to YouTube (more on this in a moment) and YouTube TV, Amazon has some fun features like being able to hail rideshare or reorder paper towels from your Prime account with just a voice command. However, Echo devices cannot natively connect to YouTube. That means if you’re looking to play music and don’t have a Spotify account to pair with your Amazon device, you’ll have to settle for Amazon Music. Google Home users can just ask Google to play music, and the device will pull something from YouTube. Sames goes for pulling up a YouTube video, which might be helpful for when you need to know how to cook things. You technically can access YouTube from a browser in an Echo Show device, but it’s a hassle, to be sure.

Voice commands on both the Echo and the Nest work pretty well, especially once you consider that the devices have made it easier to incorporate multiple voice profiles. However, the Nest pulls ahead of the Echo here, as it can easily pull information from your calendar, payment info, photos, and more (assuming you’ve got them all set up through Google’s suite of products). Amazon offers these, but you have to manually connect them, whereas Google incorporates them once you log in with your Google account.

However, when it comes to providing actual answers to your questions, Amazon Alexa wins out slightly. Google devices tend to be a little long-winded in their responses or not quite as clear (i.e., asking Google a question about when a basketball game is might give you data on an individual team, while Alexa will tell you the specific start time). It’s not a dealbreaker but can be a little cumbersome.

Amazon does win points here for its streamlined approach to providing answers. Still, every day, ease of use functionality, it has to be Google for how it incorporates the stuff you’d use and need on a consistent basis, without much of a hassle.

Winner: Google

Google Nest Hub Smart Display Courtesy of Best Buy

   

Privacy

Amazon’s policies around how they share their data, especially in regards to how they share their Ring info with local police departments, are sketchy at best and deeply problematic at worst. That doesn’t even take into account the various Alexa snafus, including the sending of voice recordings and bizarre (and unwanted) giggling. To its credit, Amazon took serious steps to ensure those things never happened again — but even still, yikes.

That being said, Google hasn’t encountered any of those issues with their devices, so we wholeheartedly recommend Google Home for those who want to make sure their privacy is fully buttoned-up and squared away.

With devices that have built-in cameras, like their respective smart displays, they all feature privacy covers that you can manually place over the camera. That way, users can feel confident that big brother isn’t watching them. Furthermore, there are dedicated mute buttons as well that can effectively cut the microphone from listening.

Winner: Google

  

Cost

Let’s get down to what’s likely to be a dealbreaker for many: the price of these two systems. Amazon definitely has an advantage here, as the massive retailer leverages its Prime Day to offer steep discounts on the majority of its flagship Alexa products. Sales notwithstanding, the devices from the two brands are roughly the same across the board; the Nest Mini and Echo Dot clock in around $50. Pricing is a little more variable from there, with the Nest Audio priced at $100 and the Echo Studio at $200. Amazon’s fleet of Show devices ranges from $55 to $250 and offers a lot of different features depending upon individual needs. Google’s Nest Hub devices come in two flavors (the Hub basic at $100 and the Hub Max at $229).

Amazon wins, barely, for offering a video device on the cheap, but we’d argue the simplicity of Google’s devices makes it easier to understand what you’re getting instead of having to sort through a handful of different product options.

Winner: Amazon

Amazon Echo Dot Smart Speaker

Amazon Echo Dot Smart Speaker Courtesy of Amazon

  

Who Wins?

In any competition, there can only be one winner. In this case, it wasn’t much of a competition, as Google bested Amazon 3-1. Both remain strong choices (Amazon’s Alexa products are particularly great if you have a Prime subscription), but for overall, day-to-day ease of use, visual looks, and features, it must be Google.

  

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