Krzysztof is a lifelong future tech junkie investigating the latest stories from companies like Apple, Samsung, Google, and Amazon.
What's the Google Home?
Google Home, Mini, and Max are direct competitors to the Amazon Echo, the Echo Dot, and other Amazon Alexa enabled products.
The devices function as wired, Bluetooth speakers that deliver similar far-field voice capabilities, smart home controls, search queries, and musical playback as the Echo.
Each device is priced competitively too and it includes:
- Google Home - $99.99
- Google Home Max - $299
- Google Home Mini - $49.99
- Amazon Echo - $99.99
- Echo Plus - $149.99
- Echo Dot - $49.99
However Google's plan to challenge and steal the spotlight from the Echo could come quickly with a framework of software and hardware the company has developed.
Currently the Amazon Echo is ahead of the game particularly as a smart home hub due to its immense control of connected products, but Google's innovations may have a lot more to give.
So what can Google offer that Amazon's Alexa can't?
A lot more than you'd think...
Google Home vs. Amazon Echo
The Amazon Echo has tons of third party integration and it responds to your voice very well, but it lacks several features that the Google Home doesn't including:
- Integration with Google WiFi routers
- Better speakers/audio (Google Home Max)
- Artificial Intelligence
The mesh network or Google WiFi connects your home seamlessly to the internet and the company may expand its Home capabilities to their routers, which already satisfy a need in the home.
The Google Max also offers contains a much more powerful speaker/audio array than anything Amazon has available (for now). Additionally, Google has years of advanced AI experience with a slew of data collected over the years.
However Google needs a lot of third party help and smart home company support. They do have popular products like Nest in their circle, but they need to integrate quickly to catch up.
If Google can figure out a way to integrate more third party apps, then they'll rapidly speed towards Amazon Alexa's smart home ecosystem.
The bottom line is that Amazon is not an inherent tech company like Google, which could be a major disadvantage long term. Google knows future tech and Amazon has dabbled and failed in the past (fire phone), so they are new to this.
The e-commerce monster has been very fortunate with the Echo, but being lucky doesn't mean they'll be able to sustain their dominance. If a better product comes around, then Amazon and the Echo will have to step aside.
And that day may come sooner than later because of one significant problem Alexa has struggled with since its arrival on November 6, 2014.
Amazon Alexa's Major Flaw
Amazon Alexa is still dumber than Google!
That's right the famous home assistant is a simpleton with a very limited range of intelligence.
Her lack of intelligence has always been her biggest flaw, and the Google Home assistant makes that a lot more noticeable.
Alexa responds to very specific phrases and doesn't understand context, however; she has been steadily improving and is expected to keep developing in the years to come.
But for now you can't ask her multiple questions on the same topic because she doesn't know what the previous topic was.
It's very annoying hearing "Sorry, I can't find the answer to the question I heard" over and over again.
To partially alleviate this problem, you can enable "follow-up" mode in the app's settings so you won't have to say Alexa over and over again (great for smart home commands).
So Amazon managed to create one of the most responsive voice assistants we've ever seen and they've integrated Alexa with numerous developers and companies that can control your smart home, but they missed the most important attribute....intelligence.
It's very frustrating that the Echo can't answer basic questions, and it takes the device down several notches unless you have several smart devices linked to her.
If Amazon doesn't update her AI, then she'll eventually be outclassed by the Google Home.
Powerful Google Assistant
Unlike Alexa, Google owns the search engine platform and the "Google Assistant" is by far the smartest of the bunch but it's about to get even smarter.
The company has revamped its famous search assistant by incorporating deep learning into the AI bot.
What will that mean exactly?
It means that the new "Assistant" can understand the context of your queries and do more than answer simple questions. It can book flights, appointments, make travel or restaurant arrangements, and provide full access to calendars, to-do lists, and much more.
Google wants to adapt to your needs and answer you accordingly, which will be very important to the Google Home's success in the long run.
Imagine taking the smartest voice assistant, making it even smarter, incorporating seamless voice recognition, and putting all that into an always on unit in your home.
If successful, it will truly feel like having a natural conversation will an AI device that wants to make your life a lot easier to manage. I realize Google hasn't always hit home-runs but when they get it right, they really get it right.
But wait a second...
Apple has been an innovator for years, so why does it get so much flack when Google has made similar mistakes?
Simple, no other company has pushed its ideas further than the "Big G".
Google Is the Best Tech Company
Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, and Apple are incredibly advanced tech companies, but they aren't Google.
Google knows how to take an idea and maximize its potential for all to witness.
Even past mistakes like Google Glass have done something we haven't seen before and are now partially responsible for the augmented/virtual reality transformation we're seeing today.
The "Glass" device itself is also making a comeback as a health tool for those with autism and other social or psychological disorders. Time.com even placed the product in the "Top 50 tech gadgets" of all time, and that was one of their biggest flops.
Meanwhile Google has also been responsible for the massive Android smartphone market, its Google Play store, Google Cardboard, Daydream, and a plethora of other discoveries and innovations.
And yes other companies may have beat them to the punch, but they have failed to do the one thing that the search engine giant hasn't...
Bring their products to the masses!
There are reasons why Google dominates search engines, the smartphone market, and soon, the smartwatch category. They know how to create technology that anyone can use at a price that won't get you slaughtered by your spouse.
They are the tech leader whether you like it or not.
Google Leads in Innovation
Google has consistently been an innovator because they know how to make our lives better. For example, their Waymo self driving car project is well on its way to changing our world forever.
Ten years from now they'll likely reduce deaths in the millions and make our commute faster, safer, and a lot more convenient, but that's always been the status quo of this tech beast.
Even with virtual reality, Google was the one that brought it to the public with its very affordable Cardboard item. So although Oculus and the HTC Vive have far more advanced virtual reality platforms, they weren't as convenient and reachable in the early days as Google.
I'm excited to see how the virtual reality platform will evolve over the next few years, and I wouldn't be surprised if Facebook and HTC fall behind. They may have the superior software and hardware but it doesn't matter if nobody can purchase their product.
It's this combination of personal consideration and innovation that truly makes Google stand out from the pack, and it's what will drive (no pun intended) the next decade of futuristic ideas.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Krzysztof Willman (author) from Parlin, New Jersey on August 11, 2018:
Awesome, thank you for the helpful tips as always.
NikkiRoxi on August 03, 2018:
Just Like Fun. Amazon already has that built into Alexa. It is called Remember This. Just ask Alexa to remember this. By using a 3rd party Skill like you are currently using, you will have to remember the invocation phrase. When Amazon incorporates a feature like they did all you have to say is Alexa, Remember This. When it is time for Alexa to remind you, just say Alexa where did I put such and such or when is so and so coming to visit?
Just like fun on May 27, 2018:
I've been using a skill called "Lost It" recently. It lets you store an items location to find it later. It has been a real time saver and anxiety reducer!
NikkiRoxi on January 15, 2018:
Well over the holidays I bought a GH mini, but I still don’t use it much, but re reading this article and realizing it can book a flight for me is a cool feature. I am sure Jetblue and others will start to incorporate the feature. I hate to admit it, but you may be right Googoe has the potential to surpass Amazon with this particular tech, but don’t count out Amazon yet. Yeah Amazon bombed with their Fire Phone, but Google has had some bombs too. I think the phone only bombed because it was late to the smartphone party as was Microsoft. But you forgot to mention Amazon had a huge success with their Kindke Devices. So they are not that new to tech as you suggest.
Krzysztof Willman (author) from Parlin, New Jersey on October 17, 2017:
Thank you, I've been meaning to update that portion of the text although Alexa still has troubling understanding context the way the Google Assistant does.
NikkiRoxi on October 12, 2017:
It says you updated this article on October 5 2017, if that is true then you should have updated the fact that Alexa does understand context. You can ask follow up questions on the same topic. Please add an update to that section. I will agree Amazon must focus more on updating the ability of their AI Software. The smarter and more fluid Alexa becomes the more popular she will be.
Krzysztof Willman (author) from Parlin, New Jersey on April 20, 2017:
All Echo products use the Alexa voice assistant
Alex on April 19, 2017:
Is the echo dot like Alexa?
Krzysztof Willman (author) from Parlin, New Jersey on January 06, 2017:
That's a good assessment especially the "Ok Google" mention. People love to personalize items and they definitely feel a more custom made presence with Alexa versus Google. This will continue even if Google gets super smart and builds thousands of its own skills via developers. Amazon has a huge head start and they will only progress further knowing other companies are trying to cash in. I'm very curious to see what the next Echo device will be officially. That could end up being another huge success like the Dot this holiday season.
Mike on January 04, 2017:
Echo is already ubiquitous and has the better mic array and, with Dot, has the better form factor. So Amazon wins the hardware race from the get-go.
Amazon's head start gives Echo a "deep bench" of skills.
Google's intelligence will ultimately overtake Echo... IF Google gets rid of "ok google" and allows you to NAME THE THING. I was doing tablet-based voice interactivity for the past two years, and my wife wouldn't participate just because of that 'okgoogle' phrase. Now with Alexa, the wife is fully onboard.
Yes, of such inane things are success or failure made.
Google is the tech giant. Are they smart enough to grasp that the form factor and the catchphrase are what can possibly keep them stuck behind Echo?
Krzysztof Willman (author) from Parlin, New Jersey on December 27, 2016:
Great points all around that I think a lot of users should be mindful of. I do find that my Echo Dot handles audio way better than the Home but not surprised given how it was originally designed for that function. The Home has the data and knowledge but it has a long way to go before it can catch up to the Echo. I don't know how well it'll be able to integrate and become the center around its Google ecosystem. The company just recently did this with their smartphone Pixel device so they're very new to this. I wouldn't say the device is doomed though because there's a lot of time to move to the standards you've described and the product is still fresh.
I'd give them a full year to see what happens before bestowing a verdict on their smart speaker.
Timothy Regan on December 26, 2016:
I think that if google fails to integrate with other parts of existing home eco systems it's doomed. First and foremost it can't (won't) interface with networked DNLA devices. The "industry" has been working to get DNLA as the accepted method to share Audio/Video within the "home" echo system - AND Google ignores this. Most home NAS servers are there to support Music, Video and Images; Google Home, today, is blind to this - in my mind a HUGE oversight. I want to use Google home to ask to hear a specific song, album or group, and have it played from my home server (or from Google Play) but it cannot do this (without a premium Google Play account - which still does not seem to work 80% of the time). Traditional Music libraries are organized this way, and Google refuses to recognise this - a poor decision - one that my $39 echo handles with ease. I like using Chromecast to integrate my whole house, but without getting to my TB's of stored media, it crippled. And I don't see what there is not more users complaining (which they may be by avoiding/returning Google Home devices after trying them).
Krzysztof Willman (author) from Parlin, New Jersey on December 08, 2016:
I completely agree about Amazon Web Services or AWS for short. They recently had their own conference that'll further expand their Cloud technologies which will bleed into the Alexa platform. I think Amazon's willingness to work with other parties is a testament to Bezos and the corporate leaders because very few top companies are that open. I love Amazon and their products so I'm not downgrading them by any means. I'm specifically talking about one product and its future versus Google's vision. I trust in Google's ability to collect data and their experience in AI, that's why I think they'll eventually flourish with Home. Other areas like smart home partners are a lot more iffy.
John on December 07, 2016:
I think this article massively underestimates the power of Amazon as a technology company. Amazon Web Services underpins is a technology platform that underpins a huge amount of internet today, far more than the equivalent platforms from Microsoft and Google combined. Also the Alexa platform is far more open than the Home platform - the very fact you can add skills is something that Home doesn't have today, leaving the capability of the platform open to your imagination. they have also made available a huge number of complementary platforms to help developers use it like, Lex. Google is welcome competition for sure, but they have a lot of work ahead to catch up.
Krzysztof Willman (author) from Parlin, New Jersey on October 12, 2016:
What I meant was that they didn't inherently start as tech companies the way a Google did but that has changed dramatically over the past few years. I do think they are right up there with the Google and Apples of the world.
Ritesh on October 05, 2016:
Facebook and Amazon not real tech companies? You must be kidding right? Every company you mentioned are amazing at engineering and technology. Amazon has the best cloud computing system.
Krzysztof Willman (author) from Parlin, New Jersey on August 19, 2016:
I am surprised at the lack of major updates thus far. The product is mainly highlighting past skills and things the Echo can already produce. I'm not seeing a lot of progress with Amazon Alexa beyond skill integration, which can easily become overwhelming. They praise the thousands of new skills added on but only a few make a difference.
One positive is that more competition does fuel innovation, and Amazon will have to push the needle forward otherwise newer platforms will leap ahead of them.
Magnus on August 19, 2016:
Amazon is presently the only dog in the show and they are doing a amazing job of failing.
There have been no major updates in ages you can't do basic things like check your email or connect to most online accounts.
You can't stream to other devices so they come out with the dot which has the very same wifi/bluetooth chipset as the echo and only differs by a output jack and lack of speaker.
Its not available outside the US which makes little sense since there demand and no real competing products.
When home comes out its going to be able to link to chromecasts out of the box have a more robust support and actually feedback from google itself.
Amazon feedback is basically nill and people have no idea whats in the works or any reason to be excited.
They may seem to be doing good now but are actively destroying their own product by a near totally lack of active support and putting out the dot assuming people where to stupid to notice they were getting suckered.
It may have been different if one could order the dot but it required a person to already have the echo which was just a slap in owners faces.
Amazon could still save things but they are very rapidly running out of time to do so.
There in real danger of having a if only product on their hands through their own inaction and greed.
Krzysztof Willman (author) from Parlin, New Jersey on May 19, 2016:
Amazon and Facebook are trying to become tech companies but the jury is out on either of them. I'm glad I could help and it who knows if thing will work they way they expect them too. I watched Google I/O and their demos were impressive, but of course a demo is very different from reality.
Kaili Bisson from Canada on May 19, 2016:
I never really think of Amazon as being a tech company, so I learned a lot reading this. Obviously for this technology to work the way it should, a certain amount of intelligence needs to be programmed in.