Best voice control - Alexa or Google Home?


I would like voice control for my smartthings setup and consider Alexa dot or the new google home mini. I’m a google person, and design wise I would prefer google home.

My issue is that I’m from Denmark in EU and my native language is not supported on either one of those products. So I will probably need to do voice control in english, which is acceptable since I have no other choice. I dont know if there is any problem it that. If google home will say that because of my IP, google assistence is not supported and good voice controls would not work.

My question is if you have any experince in which one is better to controls your Things?

And do you see any problem in using this in my country?

Have an Echo and Echo Dot as well as a Google Home and Google Home mini. I like them both and think you would probably enjoy either. That being said the google home gets used way more often in our house. I like how google home controls my smart devices better than alexa, it give me better more reliable answers to most questions I throw at them. I also don’t really find the fact that Alexas 20k skills is a big deal, in fact I find the skills to be a real hinderance since you have to know how to invoke the skill and even though you can do thought through voice you still need to remember the names of all the different skills. I use shortcuts on google which means I can invoke a google service using something that makes since to me and my family vs having to remember the exact way to invoke a skill. I also like google for home control better even though most reviews say that Alexa is better for that because it has more partners, this may be true but so far I have’t really ran into something I cant integrate evert device I have works with both ecosystem. Also sound quality of google home is better than the 1st gen echo but can’t speak for 2nd gen echo.

Should add that while my preference is the Google Home if comparing native capabilities, however there really is nothing like Ask Alexa or EchoSistant for Google Home yet… but that’s why I have both. As @JDRoberts test both, especially now that the mini is available you can try both for lest than the cost of Google Home or Amazon Echo.


It’s a very good question, and one that gets asked about once a week in these forums, so you can find lots of existing threads on it. :sunglasses:

I don’t know how difficult it is for you to get the devices to begin with. If returning them would be easy, my recommendation is the same as I have posted elsewhere: just get one of each and try it. There are some differences and different ones will work better for different people.

If returning them would be too difficult, then I would say if you are already using Chromecast and you are already using Google assistant on your phone, then get the Google device. If not, my personal recommendation would be to get the Amazon echo device.

Both are good devices, both are continually adding new features, so really both are good choices.

For more details, see the existing threads, there is a great deal there already. :sunglasses:

Of course I have a few Echos and Chromecasts on my TV. Too bad I didn’t have matches of either. The cheapest route is to probably pick up a Fire Stick for my TV.

i have both because amazon echo was released before GH so i can tell you my opinion on this matte.
I live in Romania so non of this gadgets are supported also my accent is not helping.
Also please note that both of them were purchased from US.

Amazon Alexa pros: - using Alexa as trigger is way more easy and have fewer missed triggers
- setting up phlips lights in groups is more practical
- i like the look and sound output better
- better integration with your google calendar
- even thou the amazon app is not available in my country you can dld and install it on your phone and on your partner/wife phone and be able to call hand free with Echo, or call others from your contact list which own an echo.

Amazon Alexa cons: - cannot setup location only in supported countries.
- until recently was not able to setup timezone and had to do a small hack for that
- no weather forecast for my city (only knows few cities in my country) and because of location issue I have to trigger “How is the weather in Timisoara” which sometime works sometime doesn’t.
- poor search results

Google Home pros: - knows your location and all the functions like weather, traffic, time works
- good search results
- google app is available to dld from google play
- I’m using google play music which works in android auto also
- setup shortcuts

Google Home cons: - i have problems with the “OK Google” wake up words (it might be my accent)
- more difficult to setup lights in groups

Regarding integration with SmartThings I see no difference between ECHO and HOME.


Alexa only ever arrived in my house because the WAF on constantly saying “ok google” was nonexistent lol

That said, the multiple Echo Dots in my home do a terrific job - and are getting better at it all the time. For smart home control, it works great. And the Dot form factor is terrific; you can stick ‘em to walls and ceilings without them being obtrusive.

But I will be getting a Google Dot soon. Because there is no match for the google knowledge base.


In my house, Alexa dominates. Easier to set up and use for home automation, Nest control, fire stick, Harmony hub. Plus we use it for whole home audio with Amazon Music.

The Google Home is mainly there for the occasional search question, which it handles marginally better than Alexa for now.

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I’m curious about the statement of Alexa easier setup and use for home automation… I find it to be more of a hassle for example I can say turn off the lights to google home and its smart enough to turn off all lights. Or I can say google turn of the color lights and any device with the name color lights will turn off. With Alexa if I say turn off the lights, it tells me a few names share that name and ask me which onee I want, I then have to give the exact device name or group. That does not seem very intelligent to me but maybe I am doing something wrong. Its for this very reason I now default to google home because Alexa natively requires me to be very specific about the device or group I’m trying to control. For example I have 12 LiFX and Hue bulbs all in different rooms with google I can just say turn off all color bulbs and it happens. With Alexa it tells me a few names share that name which one do you want. Which means I have to either say each devices name or go room by room and even then if I say turn off the family room color bulbs it still tells me a few things share that name which one did you want. I just gave up on for home control as I don’t have the time or patience to go device by device or room by room to shut off color bulbs.

I don’t know, but with my limited experience playing with google home on my nvidia shield tv, when I said Turn off the office light, google home turned everything off in my office which is not what I wanted and seems to be the opposite of your experience. Maybe I don’t have something configured right but I’m not sure if I like google home second guessing what I really want. I need to play around with this a little more and see if I can go get closer to your experience where I do see your point.

You may want to try Ask Alexa, an app and corresponding skill that allows for a LOT better integration that the native skill…it will allow you to have multiple Smartthings within your home to react and report to your voice command instead of just reacting (and most of the time, poorly).

I would start here if you want more information:

Location association would be great. Associate a particular Echo or google dot with a particular group of things, then say “Alexa turn off the tv in here” or “ok google turn on the lamp in here” and you would not have to remember names of a bunch of different devices.

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Amazon will have location Association via “smart groups” soon, probably November. :sunglasses: This will allow you to associate a specific echo device to a specific group. So when you walk into the bedroom and say “echo, turn on the lights” it could turn on the lights just in that room, while if you walk into the kitchen and say “echo, turn on the lights” A different echo device in that room with turn on just the kitchen lights.

This feature was announced when the new devices were announced in September, and at first Amazon support said it would be coming in October, but now they say November.

It will be very cool once we have it. :tada:



If you do the one time set up with echo to get everything into exactly the groups that you want to, then that feature generally works very well, but it does require some initial set up work.

In contrast, google tries to guess what group something belongs to based on the name you have assigned to it. How while this works just comes down to the specific names you’ve assigned.

I’ve mentioned before that we had the problem in our house that we had a number of devices with the phrase “ceiling light”, like “Michael’s ceiling light” “kitchen ceiling light” etc, and Google home would assume that “ceiling light” was a group so that when my housemate turned off the ceiling light in his room, it would also turn off the ceiling light in the kitchen and in my room! Not what we wanted.

So echo lets you fine tune exactly the groups you want, although if it gets confused it will stop and ask you to clarify. Google tries to do that work for you, but when it gets it wrong, it may turn on or off a bunch of devices you did not want included in that command. :disappointed_relieved:

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I can echo the same thing… the echo does really well if you can recall exactly what you want to turn on and off… although I find it can get confused if I say something like “Turn of the Downstairs Lights” vs “Turn off the Downstairs Light” for my overhead light on a lower floor in my house called “Downstairs Light”… and many times if I pluralize the “Light” the Echo will reply with “There are many devices with that name which device would you like to control.” or similar…

I agree it will be nice for room specific control with the Echo… but even more useful would be room control with the ability to link to a specific Harmony Hub which alas still seems to not be happening… because that would be great in my household.

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So the present belongs to Alexa, because the intelligence in google is not good enough to guess correctly in many cases.

The future will be both of them doing it correctly, with us not having to go into the software at all but instead saying “OK googlexa, set up a room called LIVING ROOM that includes Dot #3 and Hue bulbs 5 and 6 along with the torchiere and the Bravia TV”. And then when you say to that Dot “turn off the room”, all those devices will turn off.

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I noticed today in the Alexa app you can now control individual devices within the app

@JDRoberts agreed groups are definitely the way to go with Alexa. I find with google it simply comes down to device naming, you can also create groups but with google I haven’t needed to. I guess I like the fact that google at least tries to be intelligent about it, sort of the beginning of AI in automation. I haven’t even really needed to create groups except for devices in the same room I want to control as a separate group. For example I have 7 lights in the family room, if I say turn on the family rooms lights all of them turn on. In ST they are named Family Room Down light, Family Room TV light, Family Room End Table light, etc. If I only want one light to turn on then it works no problem just saying the device name. No special setup or grouping were required other than naming the devices to the room they are in, which I already have in ST so I didn’t need to do anything in the Google home setup. Of course if I say turn off all lights then all the lights turn off in the house, or if I say turn everything off everything turns off which is to be expected. Alexa doesn’t really understand this without creating a special group for all lights, and then a group called everything which does not seem very intelligent IMHO. Another thing I prefer about google is that in ST all my devices are prefixed with the device type for example Bulb - Family Room TV color light, with google I can say ok turn of the family room TV color light and google gets it right, with Alexa it just says I’m sorry I don’t understand which device you want.

Alexa on the other hand just seems to get confused regardless of how devices are named and is very inflexible in how it deals with anything other than an exact match of a specific device name. Not a huge issue just simply requires additional setup on my part to create groups in the Alexa app, which somewhat bothers me because my devices are already named into groups.

Im not saying that either approach is better I think google just works better for the way my brain works :slight_smile: I also appreciate that fact that’s it trying to be intelligent about what you are trying to control. One thing that would be nice is best practices primer for ST on best way to name devices and group them when using G oogle or Alexa. It definitely took me some trial and error to understand they way each needed to be setup to get them to work the way I want.

I will also add that shortcuts on google are huge win for simplicity. I simply can’t stand how a skill is invoke with Alexa it’s too complicated and I just eventually gave up. With google shortcuts I don’t need IFTTT in the middle to create a custom phrase for a device trigger. With google I just create a shortcut for example for either google or alexa if I want to invoke my Neato botvac skill. I have to say Alexa or Or ok google" ask my neato botvac to start cleaning" Unless you invoke the exact phrase it fails with google I can create up to 5 custom phrases (Ok google - turn on Neato, start neato, ask neato to start cleaning, etc) All of those phrases are easier to remember, and having shortcuts to skills or as google calls them services is soooo much easier to use. Of course I can do this through IFTTT with Alexa but at least when I tried you had to say Alexa trigger before the IFTTT phrase which I did not care for, along with the IFTTT delay.

@MichaelS Yes well aware of your awesome smart apps. I use Alexa Helper, Google Helper, and ask Alexa. All of which work magnificently. I was just trying to compare them from an out of the box user experience. With google shortcuts I don’t even need IFTTT for a custom phrase to trigger a virtual switch to execute a google helper scene.

Finally I will add so far with not much time to user either I like the calling experience on google home better than Alexa. Google has no issues with calling a business, for example I can say call johnsons hardware and it does it no problem. Alexa only seems to recognize my phone contacts. The only exception is Alexa integrated my IOS contacts out of the gate, where as google seems to expect contacts from google voice. I have yet to figure out how to get it to work with my phone contacts properly but haven’t dug into why its not working.


Echoes can now be added to groups.


OK, The new groups work great, but the set up is not intuitive and is confusing a lot of people, including the folks in that Reddit thread.

You’re going to define a new group name which is essentially a zone. Into that zone you will put one or more echo devices and several smart home devices. So let’s say you have two hue bulbs, a Hue light strip, a lutron caseta wall switch, and a LIFX bulb in the living room.

Name the group with the zone name. So let’s say that this zone is “living room.”

Now when you talk to the echo device that you put into that zone, you can just say “echo, turn on the lights” and all those devices will come on.

Note that you didn’t have to say the name of the zone, and you didn’t have to say the name of each device. And you didn’t create a group called “lights.”

Instead, Echo recognizes the device class of “lights” and since you were talking to that particular echo device, it assumes you mean the ones in the zone that it is in.

So, yes, now you can say “echo, turn on the lights” to the echo device in the bedroom and have just the bedroom lights come on, and you can say “echo, turn on The lights” to the echo device in the living room and have just the living room lights come on.

But the trick is that you did not create a group called “lights” anywhere. “Light” is a device class that echo already knows. What you did was create a zone for each echo device, and then it looked for the lights in its own zone.

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Also, if you already have a switch called “living room”, you can’t name the group living room without creating a duplicate. However, a group’s name doesn’t necessarily need to make sense, you don’t have to use it’s name. You can name the group XYZ with your living room echo and your living room light in it, you still just say “turn on the light.”

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