FAQ: Google home vs Alexa

What does Kodi “hack” do? Shield TV has Chromecast ultra builtin, the controller acts like a google home, has Kodi, Plex and Nest apps…

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CNET has a good head to head review of the Google Home mini versus the Alexa Dot.

Conclusion: both are good, it depends on how you want to use them. :sunglasses:

The dot’s microphones are a little better at hearing you from across the room, the physical buttons on it are easier to use, and it has a line out jack to connect to better speakers if you want. The mini is better at answering random questions, has a little better quality sound if you’re using it as a music speaker on its own, and the fabric cover makes it look a little nicer.

So if you were already committed to google home and you wanted a less expensive device to add home automation or a/v control in more rooms, the mini is a welcome choice.

If you’re already committed to Amazon echo, the mini doesn’t give you anything the dot doesn’t already.

If you have both or you haven’t made up your mind yet, again it all comes down to how you want to use it.

Choice is good. :tada:


Yeah the whole competition between companies has created a whole slew of devices that otherwise you wouldn’t even imagine. I mean literally 5 years ago your choice was a dumb Sonos speaker for $500 or something.

I think Google right now is playing catch-up, whereas you see “works with Alexa” everywhere. With that said, it is Google, so as long as they don’t decide to give up on the whole thing, chances are things are only going to get better.

The whole idea of broadcasting messages to the whole house, “find my phone” and voice calls anywhere using your own number are killer features IMO. I have a couple of Android TVs and the fact that everything “just works” has definitely increased the acceptance factor in the house.

And Google is right though… in the aesthetics department, I’d rather have something that looks like an air freshener or a small cloth-covered donut than Dath Vader’s toothbrush holder, but maybe that’s just me. :slight_smile:

Either way, I hope both Amazon and Google (and Microsoft and everyone else) keeps coming up with new stuff for a long time. That way we’ll continue to see new features and low prices.

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Alexa has both “find my phone” and Voice calls anywhere using your own number as of a couple of weeks ago. To find your phone, you just call your own number. And as of a couple of weeks ago you can now call anyone with an echo device, the other person doesn’t have to have their own echo device or the echo app installed like they used to. You can either call by saying the digits or if the person is in your contact list you can call them by name. Clearly both companies are forcing the other to add features all the time, which is good, and is why I hope google home remains a healthy competitor. :sunglasses:

With Alexa calling and messaging, you can call most phone numbers in the US, Mexico, and Canada, either by saying your contact’s name (“Call Dad”) or voice-dialing a number (“Call 222-555-0126”)—emergency services such as 911 are not supported.

When the new echo connect device comes out in December, people who have a landline will also get echo calling to 911 and be able to receive calls from anyone on their echo devices. For someone with disabilities like mine, that’s very cool, as I currently have to use a hands-free speaker phone with my landline and it’s just not very good. I expect the intended market is those who have a smart phone “only for emergencies” and who still use a landline at home, but we’ll just have to see how it sells. Meanwhile, I have one on pre-order. :tada:

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Yeah the best part right now is that even if you’re not committed to one company, you don’t feel like you’re missing out.

The whole business of ordering groceries and everything else seems iffy, but (so far) I’ve been happy with using Google to populate my grocery list and have non-perishables delivered with very little fuss.

Hopefully as Apple (eventually) gets into the mix and pretends like they invented the assistant-enabled speaker, we’ll get even more new features and keep prices low.

Right now I’ve been waiting for Arlo to get better integration with everything, but that might not happen… so I might get rid of my system altogether and go with Nest for cameras and a doorbell.


I have a shield and LOVE it. Especially now it has Google Assistant

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The issue is this only works for one phone. I use trackr for my wife’s. A lot of features are still for one user. A lot of these features assume the user is in an apartment when I think the majority are users with families. They are workarounds but I want these to be better integrated.

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Arlo works great with ST. No issue. Use CoRE and automate what you need.

I’m glad you haven’t run into it, but there is a known bug with Arlo that is affecting a number of community members right now and has been confirmed by support, where calls to Arlo are timing out which causes various automations to fail, including web core pistons. There’s a fix being worked on, but it hasn’t been deployed yet:


Kodi basically allows you to watch just about any video for free. Not quite legally I might add.

It isn’t a hack. It’s just installing repos and channels that stream torrents. Not legal and they get shut down all the time. People sell Kodi sticks (fire sticks) with Kodi and repo installed to the non tech people for 100 bucks. This kills me because not only is it easy to do yourself for free but they do not explain that the repos get taken down all the time and offer support.

Yes on all counts. The reason that them getting $100 seems crazy though is that people on here are generally pretty technical and tinkerers. I would do it myself just for the fun of getting it to work. My knucklehead friends and family though, just want something that works like a retail product. That’s the same reason that HA consultants could charge tons of money to set up a SmartThings system for my mom.


The biggest problem I have with echo is no support for multiple locations. It is a mess trying to do it with multiple smartthings hubs on the same account. You setup a new account you loose your prime music streaming capability. So I just don’t use the smarthome side of it in the 2nd locattion. It would be really nice if this was fixed!

I spent hours reading review articles on Google Home and Alexa. I ended up building a calculator that calculates which one is best for YOU based on YOUR needs. I posted the calculator online if anyone else wants to use it. http://www.thetechbeacon.com/index.php/techfitters/google-home-vs-amazon-echo

The approach was interesting, but three of us tried it and found the results wildly inaccurate. It’s just very hard to keep up with all of these things.

Specific Glitches

First of all, you eliminated echo for one of us because we require a Frigidaire integration and you said that echo doesn’t have Frigidaire integration. But it absolutely does, we have been using it for a year with a Frigidaire air conditioner. So I’m not sure what went wrong there.

Secondly, you eliminated echo for a second one of us because you said it doesn’t have an intercom feature. But it does, so I’m not sure what happened there. You may have been referring to a specific kind of group casting, but that’s not necessarily what people mean when they say they want an intercom feature. (Nor are all people looking for a system which allows them to prank other people in the house.)

Third, the answers about controlling the TV were really strange for all three of us, because we use the Logitech Harmony to control the TV. That works very well with echo. Also there are options for using a fire TV. So not only did that answer seem to be inaccurate, it was incomprehensible.

Fourth, I’m not sure exactly what you meant by the following answer, but it’s not true. The echo does use natural language recognition. The one exception is for control of IFTTT, where echo does require the “trigger” format. But the answer given was much more general than that.

You may have to spend some time learning the exact speaking syntax that Echo uses, unlike Google Home which uses a more natural language syntax.


And fifth, You also have a comment that Google home can recognize individual voices while Alexa cannot. Both of these devices are adding new features frequently, and echo did add that feature back in October, so that comment no longer applies.

Echo devices keep getting better, getting multi-room audio, access to Google calendars, and intercom features. Now, though, Amazon just matched one of Google Home’s killer features: the ability to recognize multiple voices. In a video on the retailer’s help site, you can see how to set up and use Voice Profiles. Alexa can now recognize voices in order to route Messages, Calls, allow access to shopping without a confirmation code, play Flash briefings and access an Amazon Music Unlimited Family plan based on the person speaking.

What Academic Research has Revealed

One of the interesting things when you look at third-party evaluations where they did hundreds or even thousands of tests is that Google crushes Amazon, at least as of this writing, when it comes to answering homework questions or general interest questions. That’s not the same thing as “natural language,” but it’s a clear google advantage at least for now.

On the other hand, the same research found that it was Amazon that was better at understanding “commands,” such as requests to control home automation. Not as much better as the difference in the general information queries, but still a real difference. Both were using natural language, that wasn’t the issue. But Google is a little more likely to try to guess what you’re asking and therefore a little more likely to produce the wrong result.

We’ve discussed this at length in the forums with regard to how home automation devices get grouped by both voice assistants if you’re interested in more details.

And at the present time, echo’s native abilities don’t include traffic from multiple routes, so another area where Google has a clear advantage but we’re not everyone may care.

So it depends very much on how someone wants to use the device as to how satisfied they may feel with it.

Improving the Survey Results

As I said, we had three separate people use your survey, and none of us felt the results were accurate or fully understandable. The results also seem to be heavily biased towards Google, so some of us wondered if you get a higher affiliate fee on referral purchases for that brand. (My housemate pointed out that when he answered the survey he said he must have the ability to re-order items from his Amazon account, and it still recommended google home over echo.)

As I look at the specific results, I think it’s more that you’re using an overall score where individual pieces may be more relevant to someone. Although there were still the glitches like with Frigidaire and the intercom which confused the issue further.

There was also no discussion of multiple languages or the quality of the microphone system itself, both of which can be of significant importance to some people.

Both devices are good, and different ones will work for different people, but I just didn’t feel like the survey was a helpful tool in the selection, at least for the people that we had try it’today.

Hopefully these are just early glitches, and you will be able to figure out what went wrong and get it fixed. I’m sure there are a lot of people who would be interested in this kind of match advisor. :sunglasses:

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