Will the Real AI Please Stand Up?

Google Home Ships Tomorrow. Here’s How It Beats Amazon Echo


Tech By Photo by Chase Pellerin
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Virtual assistants no longer have that “new car smell.” They’re everywhere: integrated into our phones, gaming consoles, and even our wireless speakers. In a side-by-side test, we found Alexa to be the most helpful, compared to Cortana and Siri. Performance-wise, Amazon’s virtual assistant, especially in a powered speaker like Echo, has been largely unrivaled thus far. That changes with the arrival of Google Home — available for pre-order now, and in retail stores, like Walmart, on Friday, November 4th.

Aside from being the arguably better-looking device — and with a touch surface, superior speakers, more color options, and a better price — Google Home has the distinct advantage of being made by Google. That means it’s able to tap into the tech goliath’s heart, Google Search, making its knowledge base virtually unmatched. Plus, it seamlessly syncs with your other Google account; so when you ask it questions like, “What time is my flight today?” or “What’s on my calendar today?” it gives you accurate answers, quickly, without any compatibility issues. But the advantages only start there.

If you own a Pixel phone, Google Home can now send info directly to your phone. Obviously Google Home doesn’t have a display screen, so in order to tell you where something is, it needs to show you. Now when you ask Google Home for directions or to make a dinner reservation, Google Home actually sends that info to your smartphone. Unfortunately, this feature only works with smartphones that have Google Assistant, meaning the Pixel or Pixel XL.

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It can play music with Google Play Music and YouTube Music. This seems obvious, as Google owns both, but the Echo can’t do either. Google Home also supports Spotify Premium and Pandora, but doesn’t support Amazon Prime Music or Video, like the Echo. It should be noted that neither Google Home nor Amazon Echo support Apple Music or the Apple Watch. However, the Amazon Echo also acts as a Bluetooth speaker, so you can listen to Apple Music that way; the Google Home lacks this functionality.

Don’t know the exact name of the song? No problem. Google Home is intelligent enough to know what song you’re talking about. For instance, I said, “OK Google, play the song at the end of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, and it correctly queued up “May It Be” by Enya.

It’s compatible with Chromecast and Nest. For Chromecast users, just tell Google Home to play a certain YouTube video on your TV, and it’ll cast directly to your set. This same voice-activated command works with the Nest smart thermostat: “OK Google, turn the temperature down to 72 degrees.” Google Home can also cast images onto the screen to better answer a question. Unfortunately Google Home does not work with Apple HomeKit smart devices.