The home automation space just got a little bit crowded but in a good way. Amazon Echo vs Google Home, What to Buy? And Who is the Best? and what do they do?
Well Google just released a great new product in their Google I/O conference (May 2016). Its called the Google Home and it shares a lot of similar traits to the highly acclaimed Amazon Echo.
We’re expecting to hear more details at another Google event on 4th October 2016
So if you don’t know anything about these 2 products yet you may not be alone. The Amazon Echo has been a great success since its release in 2014 but to a local USA market only. At the time of writing there are over 36,000 positive 4.5 star reviews at Amazon for this product. WOW
So what is an Amazon Echo?
Basically its like an always on listening machine that will answer all your questions and do simple tasks for you. Think of Star Trek where the crew can call on the computer to ask questions. Amazon Echo is a hands-free speaker you can control with your voice. Echo connects to the Alexa Voice Service to provide information, play music read books, tell you the news, sports scores, weather, and more—instantly. All you have to do is ask. Like Siri or Google Now for your home. Always listening always ready.
Controls lights, switches, and thermostats with compatible WeMo, Philips Hue, Samsung SmartThings, Wink, Insteon, Nest, and ecobee smart home devices. It’s always getting smarter and adding new features and skills–over 1000 added since launch, including Domino’s and Uber
Shaped like a small dark cylinder it can fit into the most tiniest of spaces. With a 2.5 inch sub-woofer and a 2 inch tweeter the sound is rich and full and sounds great in most sized rooms.
With multiple 360 mic the Echo can capture sound from various source locations even if there is ambient sound and separate it out to answer the question. Seems to work well even with background music playing.
If you have more than one Echo or Echo Dot, you can set a different wake or trigger words for each one so they don’t get confused—you can pick “Amazon”, “Alexa” or “Echo” as the new trigger buzz word. I wish they let you chooses your own word to make the experience more personal.
Amazon Echo Voice Commands.
Stuck not knowing what to say to the Amazon Echo? Try these simple commands to make your life easier.
- Echo find me an Italian restaurant
- Echo reorder toilet paper or Echo whats on my shopping list to check what you have added before you order.
- Echo what’s on my calendar today
- Alexa set a timer for 30min
- Alexa set an alarm for 6.30am
- Alexa play my favourite play list from Spotify / Prime music
- Alexa What song is playing? Alexa will tell you the song/artist that’s playing
- Amazon what’s the weather like today
- Amazon whats my flash briefing ( Is a list of pre recorded news stories from stations like NPR, BBC and the Economist
- Amazon how is my commute looking?
- Amazon what was the score between Liverpool and Chelsea
- Amazon what movies are playing at (insert name of local cinema)
- Echo Tell me a Joke
- Echo Play the book The Martian – Support Kindle and Audible audio books.
- Echo dim Hue light 40% / Echo turn on or off lights supports Philips Hue lights, Belkin WeMo gadgets, Nest, Wink, Insteon and the SmartThings range from Samsung.
Amazon Echo Specs
|Size||9.25″ x 3.27″ x 3.27″ (235 mm x 83.5 mm x 83.5 mm)|
|Weight||37.5 oz. (1064 grams)
Actual size and weight may vary by manufacturing process
|Wi-Fi Connectivity||Dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi (MIMO) for faster streaming and fewer dropped connections than
standard Wi-Fi. Supports 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi networks. Does not support connecting to ad-hoc
(or peer-to-peer) Wi-Fi networks.
|Bluetooth Connectivity||Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) support for audio streaming from your mobile device
to Amazon Echo and Audio/Video Remote Control Profile (AVRCP) for voice control of
connected mobile devices. Hands-free voice control is not supported for Mac OS X devices.
|Audio||2.5 inch woofer and 2.0 inch tweeter|
|System Requirements||Amazon Echo comes ready to connect to your home WiFi. The Alexa App is compatible
with Fire OS, Android, and iOS devices and also accessible via your web browser.
|Warranty and Service||1-year limited warranty and service included. Optional 1-year, 2-year, and 3-year extended
warranty available for U.S. customers sold separately. Use of Amazon
|Included in the Box||Amazon Echo, power adaptor/cable (6 ft.), and quick start guide|
What Is Google Home ?
Google has been working with speech recognition for a very long time now. With their implementation of Android on Mobile Phones, we have all seen how good this can be in recognition of voice commands or simple tasks like writing out a text via speech. Think of a product that is always listening but being able to connect directly into you House via home automation. Like the echo it will be able to listen to your voice even with Music or background noise in the room.
Having been made to look light a small table lamp light or an air freshener it wont look out-of-place in your home. With the few pictures doing the rounds it looks like the base cover can be changed out to a different colour to suit your decor. I have seen pictures of the Google Home in Brown, Gray, Black, Green/Blue, and Purple. Time will tell if these are the only colour or if more will be available.
What Can Google Home Do ?
Google Homes main function is a Speaker / Microphone so naturally it will play all of your music files. But via voice selection. It’s going to be integrated with Google Play Music.
The most interesting feature of Google Home is Google Assistant. Based on the Google Now digital assistant, but adds two-way conversation. Google’s natural language processing algorithm is the brains behind it all. Using Google Assistant, you’ll be able to find information, like the weather, and set reminders, trigger alarms, and notes.
3rd Party Services will also be supported to a limited degree at first but I am sure they will add more very soon as more the better in the long-term. Google Home, should work with the Samsung-owned SmartThings from day one. This is a rumour only. But a good one.
Competing directly with Amazon Echo it has some big shoes to fill. It is playing catch up but if you are an Android family with Tablets and phones it may be a no Brainer decision.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai said “all credit to Amazon for creating interest in this space” Google Home will be cool.
Google’s next wonder product is called Google Home. So what can it Do?
- So far it can Play a Song on your Play list
- Play Music in all rooms. I guess this is by a Bluetooth Speaker
- Read out your Emails and Calendar events
- Make reservations at compatible restaurants
- Text your friends via Speech recognition.
- Turn lights on in the house via compatible google home automation products and change thermostat settings – Think NEST with Voice Command
- Ask Google Home a question and get an audio answer
- Get verbal shipping notification and flight times read out to you
- Task Google Home to project Movies, Photos and Web Information onto your TV. I guess it uses the very popular Chromecast or compatible WiFi enabled TV
- Get traffic notification before you head out the door. Just ask Google Home a destination and it will fill you in on any delays.
Google Home Sample Voice Commands
- Roll a die: OK Google, roll a dice
- Flip a coin: Hey Google, flip a coin.
- Location: “OK Google, where am I? (Really you dont know where you are?)
- Translator: “OK Google, how do you say Bus in Russian?
- Maths: OK Google, what’s 422 times 144 divided by 4 plus 45
- Measurements: OK Google, how many litres are in 6 gallons.
- Time: Hey Google, what time is it?
- Fun: Hey Google tell me a joke
For more in depth voice list see our Google Home Voice Commands full list here
Google Home Automation
As mentioned above Google Home Automation will be here to stay. As our lives get more complex and busy we want information now and fast. Google Home Automation will bring this too us in a way to make it feel natural. An extension of our lives in a non creepy way.
Sure we will to set up our houses to accommodate the Home Automation for example
- Smart LED lighting hopefully soon supports Philips Hue lights, Belkin WeMo gadgets, Nest, Wink, Insteon and the SmartThings range from Samsung
- Intelligent door locks
- Cleaver environmental thermostat controls (Nest)
- Movies on demand with smart TVs or Chromecast enabled monitors.
- Google music to your Home Stereo
- Security Alerts
- Smart Garden Water Controllers
When will Google Home be released ? Available NOW
Scheduled to be released in Autumn 2016 and hopefully at a price that is comparable or cheaper than the Amazon Echo. Google has history at making cheap but quality products (Not Google Glass which was expensive) think Chromecast
There is a Google event on 4th October 2016, and I think there will be more announcements about the Google Home release date and Google Home Specifications. The should also be announcements about a new Pixel X and XL phones, a new Nexus 7 tablet, a Pixel laptop running Andromeda, Google Home, Daydream VR, a new 4k Chromecast Ultra, OnHub and more.
GOOGLE HOME – DESIGN
Google Home looks like to me an oversized salt shaker, but in a good way.
It’s basically a small, simple cylinder with an angled top. The bottom part of the casing is modular, and can be swapped out for other shells of varying styles and colours. And the top section is translucent white, with four colour LED lights built into the slanted surface that will tell you when Google Home is turned on. Google Home should fit in with any decor. Especially with the swap-able bases.
Amazon Echo Vs Google Home Who will Win?
At the moment Amazon Echo is in the lead with a big following, but with limited Global release and user base it must expand to really survive. Google on the other hand is hinting on a global release with its Google Home Automation product and if so should take the world by storm. If you haven’t purchased an Always Listening Home Automation product, I suggest holding of for a while till the Google Home is released and then make a decision.
Let the Battle begin Google Home vs Amazon Echo
Google Home is official:
Enhanced search and smart home integration. Final Price, all for only $129
Available from the Google store. And many other leading retailer’s, like Best Buy, Walmart and Target.
Is Google Home coming to Australia?
Well at this stage the launch for Google Home is America only. Many other countries will surly follow in the future.
It’s a lot like the release of the Chromecast where USA first the other countries.
If you do manage to import the Google Home to Australia, the question is if it will be fully functional. Or will it require some sort of Geo block or hack, similar to the Chromecast in the early days.
It’s a great price and I for one will be buying one.
Google Home Australia, we are waiting.
Update- Google home is available now from leading retailers like JB Hi-fi and Harvey Norman.
Google Home Specs
- Diameter: 3.79 in (96.4 mm)
- Height: 5.62 in (142.8 mm)
- Power cable: 70.8 in (1.8 m)
- Device: 1.05 lbs (477 g)
- Power adapter: 4.58 oz (130 g) 110v – 240v Good work google !
- Body: White
- Base: Standard base is slate fabric. Optional Bases available to purchase
Supported Audio Formats
- HE-AAC, LC-AAC+, MP3, Vorbis, WAV (LPCM), FLAC with support for high-resolution streams
- 802.11b/g/n/ac (2.4GHz/5Ghz) Wi-Fi for high-performance streaming
- Note: WPA2-Enterprise is not supported.
- High excursion speaker with 2″ driver + dual 2″ passive radiators delivers clear highs and rich bass
- Far-field voice recognition supports hands-free use
- Required 16.5V, 2A included. 110 v – 240v adapter included
- 100-240V-1.1A 50-60Hz
Ports & Connectors
- DC power jack (90 deg right angle port)
- Micro-USB port (for service only)