What are the differences between Amazon Echo and Google Home?

We’ve talked about some of the personal assistants you can use on your smartphone like Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant, but what if you could have a ‘virtual friend’ in your home, always on hand to deal with a request or question? That’s the idea behind Amazon Echo and Google Home, two AI assistants.

They look a bit like small speakers (which is essentially what they are, along with being a personal assistant!), which you can put on your mantelpiece or on your bedside table. You can speak to them and ask a question, or make a request, like ordering a takeaway.

The other thing they are both good for is syncing all your smart home devices (like lights and speakers) together, so you can control everything with your voice. Bear in mind, though, that you will need a WiFi connection in order to use them.

Not sure which to go for? Read our quick guide to the key features below.

What they both do

  • Smart home control – both act as a manager for your smart home. You can tell it to switch off your heating and, bingo, it’ll do it
  • Get the heads-up on traffic problems – by using the Alexa or Google Maps, you can set your office as a destination. Echo and Google Home will tell you about any traffic problems on the route
  • Check your calendar – both allow you to set alarms, timers and create shopping lists, ensuring you don’t miss any appointments
  • Play music – both allow you to link up a music streaming service, such as Google Play Music, or Spotify. You can say ‘play some Adele’ and the device will do it for you

How they’re different

  • Wake words – to get Google Home’s attention, say “Okay Google”, while for Echo, it’s simply “Alexa”, or “Echo”
  • Music streaming options – for Google Home, the options are Google Play Music, YouTube Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Tunein, while for Amazon Echo, the choices are Amazon Prime, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio
  • Daily briefing – this is only available on Google Home. You can receive a personalized daily briefing, covering news stories and your calendars
  • Sync – Amazon Echos don’t sync with each other, so you can’t use two to play a song in different rooms. Google Home devices, on the other hand, do link up, meaning you can fill a whole house with music
  • Customized appearance – Google Home comes in different colors and surfaces, whereas Echo does not
  • Complexity – Early reviews suggest that the Google Home is a device you can put follow-up questions to, and have more of a conversation with than the Echo.

It’s worth bearing in mind that these are the first devices of their kind and newer versions are bound to come equipped with even more advanced features. We’re looking forward to seeing what’s next in store for Home and Echo.